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Shock and awe: Faces of people trying Oculus Rift

If you think virtual-reality headsets are a joke, check out just how real the immersive Oculus Rift seems to these people.

Step into another world.
Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Editor's note: We had originally planned to run this feature on Saturday, June 1, but found out the day before that Andrew Scott Reisse, a co-founder of Oculus VR, had just been killed in an accident. We are running the story now as a tribute to the product Reisse helped create, and we offer our condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers mourning his loss.

The Oculus Rift headset differs from most other wearable displays by adding the extra benefit of highly accurate head-tracking. This means that when a Rift wearer looks left in real life, the virtual view turns to that direction as well. This sense of realness is often a major surprise for those unfamiliar with the tech.

My colleague, CNET Senior Editor Dan Ackerman, once told me about his first time trying out the Oculus Rift: "I had to just put my hands up after about 15 mins. and say, 'OK, get this thing off me...' I had total vertigo, and I seriously wasn't right for the rest of the day."

We've compiled a hilarious gallery of various people checking out the Oculus Rift for the first time, and the results may leave you in stitches.

Of course, the Oculus Rift isn't a total wash. It provides a truly realistic virtual-reality experience -- one so compelling that CNET home entertainment contributor Geoffrey Morrison said, "The Oculus Rift is the virtual reality we've been promised since the dawn of video gaming, and really, the early days of science fiction. It leaps past all other attempts at the technology and moves into the realm of total immersion. The feeling is so natural that it's effortless to suspend disbelief that you are standing in that place, in that world."