Disunion is an experimental Oculus Rift game which puts the player through a first-person execution via the infamous Guillotine.

The game was created by Erkki Trummal, André Berlemont, and Morten Brunbjerg in two days as part of the Exile Game Jam in Denmark which ran from May 1st – 5th.

Download the Oculus Rift Guillotine Simulator

In the video above (mind a few NSFW words), several people get to experience their own simulated execution by Guillotine thanks to Disunion. The reactions seem pretty intense — especially with an unexpected whack on the neck from a ‘friend’.

While I haven’t yet been able to step into the Guillotine myself (I never thought I’d write that sentence!), I have a strong feeling that realistic audio will be key to a visceral reaction. A proper binaural recording could make the experience sound incredibly realistic and frightening.

The Penny Arcade Report’s Ben Kuchera called Disunion “deeply disturbing,” and noted:

I’ve spent the past few weeks inside virtual reality doing things I have never dreamed I’d get a chance to do in real life. I’ve been in space. I’ve driven all sorts of interesting vehicles. I suppose it was only a short amount of time before a team wanted to show us how it would feel to die. You don’t fail at a task before losing your head, being killed is the entire point of the game. This was an interesting experiment, and I’m glad I was given a chance to try it, but it’s nothing I want to go through again.

Perhaps this could become part of a high-school lesson on the famous beheading of Marie Antoinette — I doubt students would soon forget it!

Two Classic VR Games From Google's VR Studio Coming Soon to Vision Pro

While We’re at It… Some Interesting Guillotine Facts

While a popular myth purports the Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, co-creator of the device, was killed by his own invention, Guillotin was actually opposed to the death penalty and died of natural causes in Paris at the ripe age of 75. An unrelated man bearing his family name, J.M.V. Guillotin, was executed via Guillotine, possibly contributing to the myth.

Though the evidence about life after beheading is inconclusive, a doctor by the name Beaurieux penned an illuminating account of his experimentation with the head of a condemned prisoner on 28 June, 1905:

Here, then, is what I was able to note immediately after the decapitation: the eyelids and lips of the guillotined man worked in irregularly rhythmic contractions for about five or six seconds. This phenomenon has been remarked by all those finding themselves in the same conditions as myself for observing what happens after the severing of the neck …

I waited for several seconds. The spasmodic movements ceased. […] It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: “Languille!” I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions – I insist advisedly on this peculiarity – but with an even movement, quite distinct and normal, such as happens in everyday life, with people awakened or torn from their thoughts.

Next Languille’s eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves. I was not, then, dealing with the sort of vague dull look without any expression, that can be observed any day in dying people to whom one speaks: I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me. After several seconds, the eyelids closed again […].

It was at that point that I called out again and, once more, without any spasm, slowly, the eyelids lifted and undeniably living eyes fixed themselves on mine with perhaps even more penetration than the first time. Then there was a further closing of the eyelids, but now less complete. I attempted the effect of a third call; there was no further movement – and the eyes took on the glazed look which they have in the dead.

Other Names for the Guillotine:

  • The Regretful Climb
  • The National Razor
  • The Fanlight
  • The Widow
  • The Silent Mill
  • Madame La Guillotine
  • The Machine
  • The Cutter
  • The Patriotic Shortener
  • The Half-Moon
  • Wooden Justice
  • Charlot’s Rocking-chair
  • The Goncourt Prize for Murderers

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • deadering

    Uh oh! People are going to start going comatose and dying mysteriously, wearing their HMD’s.

    lol, .hack// joke aside this is actually really neat. Would be neat to see similar attractions at museums.