In 2022, virtual reality can be an amazing experience. It can transport you to a new world or let you meet Socialize with thousands of people from all over the world. However, even after years of improvements, VR can still be very messy, difficult to explain, and the experience is often annoying, too. And the latest episode of Bob’s Burgers perfectly captures all the problems that still face new VR players looking for some fun.
Over the weekend the latest episode of Bob’s Burgers aired. For those unfamiliar with the animated show, which is currently in its 13th season, the series revolves around a dysfunctional family living above a failing restaurant. Bob Belcher, father, chef, and owner of the restaurant, is a straight man garumpy but loveable, while his wife Linda, two daughters, and son are more zany and quirky. The show is funny, full of heart, and overall great. (The movie Bob’s Burgers is also good.) Anyway, back to the show’s newest episode, which focuses on Bob and his young son Gene’s experience-and suffering-with VR.
When the virtual reality arcade opens up next to the diner, Bob and Gene are both excited. However, the place charges $45 an hour. Gene decided to use his savings, almost $100, to pay for him and his father to both enjoy an hour of VR fun. The night before they left, Gene had a dream that depicted how virtual reality often looks in movies or TV shows. He flies around as a superhero, exploring space and saving the day. This is a perfect paradise where anything can happen and everything works. This is how VR is often portrayed in the media, ignoring how rough this stuff is, especially for people with weak stomachs.
However, when Gene and Bob actually arrived at the VR play area, things quickly went downhill. The game is actually difficult to play, looks bad, and breaks constantly. Bob found that he wasn’t suited to VR because he got sick quickly and felt terrible when playing. Gene struggles with control and distraction. In one game their virtual hands break and bend behind them. Another time his body parts changed while trying to climb the mountain. Gene also complains about his VR glasses fogging up and becoming blurry. It’s a disaster, and there’s no refund policy the best the guy running the place can do is give them another hour tomorrow, after he’s done a little fix.
Of course, tomorrow comes and they go back and everything is still bad. While trying to play a Darso Saber-like a rhythm game everything breaks down so badly that both Gene and Bob want to quit. However, the store owner had gone outside to make a call and no one could figure out how to remove the headset. Trapped in VR, Bob and Gene have a conversation related to the episode’s larger theme—how we all make mistakes and sometimes we’re better off learning from them—before eventually, Gene starts having fun with the broken toy.
This reminds me of a time when I was playing PSVR and the game crashed, but I ended up having more fun exploring the sudden horrible interactive nightmare than I did playing the real game. And even though Bob feels terrible all this time, he stays in VR with his son to enjoy this broken world with Gene.
It’s not just a solid and funny episode Bob’s Burgers, but it’s also probably the most authentic and realistic depiction of gaming in VR that I’ve ever seen in a movie or TV show. The moment when Bob wants to take off his headset because he feels sick but can’t figure it out reminds me of the times I’ve tried VR at my house and watched them panic for the same reason. The visuals of the fictional game are also very on point. It feels like whoever wrote this story has played (and experienced) in VR in real life. Maybe if someone hooked Bob up with Job simulator in VRso he can cook in the kitchen, he can have a better time.