I'm a nonviolent person, but when I was given the opportunity to be a jedi fighting off bad guys with a lightsaber, I took it in a heartbeat. At Star Wars Celebration Europe, Lucasfilm debuted its Star Wars-themed virtual reality system, the ILM X Lab (ILM, of course, stands for Industrial Light And Magic, the effects company responsible for Star Wars magic and that of countless other films). And if you ever wondered what it is like to actually use a lightsaber, this simulation might be the best possible (and safest) way to find out.
While you have to get over the initial part where you feel kind of silly (giant HTC virtual reality goggles on your face, big ol' headphones, and handle with a wrist strap on it) wandering around a room and hoping that you don't fall or worse, look insane, it might be the most worthwhile instance of pride swallowing ever. Because once you get through the initial training bits, and the admittedly incredible environmental effects (you literally stand on Tatooine as the Millennium Falcon lands above you and it's enough to make a superfan's heart flutter), you get to pick up and turn on a lightsaber.
The handle vibrates when the laser comes to life, and it feels like what you imagine holding a sword made of light might feel like. The simulator allows to you wield it a bit before sending the stormtrooper attackers after you and the environment responds spectacularly, letting you leave your mark on any of the surrounding props and even the ground. Then come the bad guys: Stormtroopers fire directly at you and you have mere moments to figure out how to not only block their lasers, but direct them back at your attackers. Suddenly, you're wielding a lightsaber just like every jedi you've ever seen in the films, and it is everything.
And while I looked like this...
...it was worth what I'm sure was wildly entertaining for my virtual reality technology expert (he made sure I wasn't tripping over wires and that I was actually paying attention to the wall censors — shout out to that guy).
I knew it would be fun, but I did not expect that upon pushing that button, I would feel like the manifestation of all my dreams as a wee little kid watching Star Wars was real. I did not expect to actually get emotional.
If watching Rey, a badass woman at the center of The Force Awakens, filled me with uncontainable joy at seeing someone who looks like me finally getting in on the jedi action, then doing it myself basically burst my heart wide open.
Images: Lucasfilm; Kelsea Stahler/Instagram