Venice Bienalle

Jacob Geller Essay


GAMEPLAY (May 2023)



THE UTILITY ROOM - Press Release


“I don't really think The Utility Room is a horror game. Or at least it foregoes most of the trappings of the genre. But it does operate on what I'd call "lizard brain fear," a sense of nope so instinctual there's no real need to introduce it.” - Jacob Geller

"I never thought I'd have nightmares about rocks.” - Steam Review

“Like being caught in a perpetual benadril fever dream.” - Steam Review

The Utility Room

The Utility Room is a surreal/experimental PCVR journey across the 'behind the scenes' of the Universe - a world inhabited by megalithic rocky heads, some several miles high. It features minor gameplay elements, environmental storytelling and is around 1hr30 hrs long. It is frightening and tense, but not like a traditional horror game. It is available to purchase on STEAM for £10.79. 

An indie title developed in Unreal Engine 5 by Lionel Marsden (KingLumps) - It aims to bring something unorthodox to the VR space by allowing people to explore a strange 'other'.

I believe VR aligns more closely with film, installation and sculpture than with videogames. What is unique about VR is it replicates immediate experience - the player is implicated in the experience more directly. Why put people in a 'virtual reality', one that is familiar, when you can send them to a strange, separate reality? One that is psychological and challenges their reality rather than provide an escape from it. 

The Utility Room is not inspired by anything. It is not a homage or remake or adaptation. It is not set in a cyberpunk-Esque city 50 years in the future. There's no shooting or flashing lights or gumball machine gameplay. It is a place that no one has ever seen or visited and it is a place where you do not belong

Fans of experimental or atmospheric horror games might appreciate the experience that The Utility Room offers.

The World

The player is only told a few lines before entering the world.

"At the edge of the Universe lies The Utility Room. The 'Behind the Scenes' where all the heavy lifting takes place. There have been no work incidents in 13.8 Billion years. You are arriving as a tourist. Don't do anything foolish."

The Utility Room is barren and rocky. The scale is immense, and in VR it feels like it. Upon arriving at the entrance to the Room, the player causes an accident, leading to them getting trapped inside. The aim is to find your way out

The Utility Room is a surreal and unsettling place. Players will find many areas tense and scary. It does not scare in the same way a horror game would. A pervading sense of megalophobia and fear of the unknown runs through the game. The player is trespassing. The world is a lot bigger than they are. The environments are peculiar and unnatural. Organic yet made entirely out of stone. The room is alive and hollow. Its ancient and awake.  

The Cosmic Caretaker known as 'Bin Man' oversees the room. It is rumoured that he was personally employed around The Big Bang to manage the maintenance and heavy lifting required to keep existence stable and temporal. 

The player meets ‘Bin Man’ late, ending the journey with a sequence of experimental VR environments that reprimand the player for trespassing. 


Whilst I refer to The Utility Room as a game, it is not gameplay heavy. There are two forms of jumping in-game. A traditional 'jump' and 'Leap'. Some gaps can be jumped normally, larger gaps will require you to leap.

Leaping is unique in The Utility Room. When the grip on both controllers is squeezed they begin to vibrate faster and faster. The faster the vibrations, the bigger the jump when the player swings their arms. By giving the player less mobility than in traditional games and disarming the player they become more vulnurable in the world. If they miscalulate a jump they will suffer the consequences. Fans of games like Boneworks or Bonelab might find this version of jumping cumbersome.

Players can both teleport and move using smooth locomotion. This is because some areas are too precarious for smooth locomotion meaning players will have to use both.

Climbing is also optional in the game but is not a major gameplay element.

In the world are collectables. 8 in total representing the different giant rocky heads that each have different jobs within the Room. Information can be learnt about them in the HEAD LOG once they are collected. 

The game also features a scenic sculpture park based on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park that can be explored in a 90's era BMW convertable as a reward for finishing the game. 

Note: The game performs best using Oculus OpenXR. Streaming/recording is best on quality setting: HIGH. 

High Tier graphics cards should be fine with ULTRA. Crashes have been observed when using the SteamVR Beta and Index headsets. This is likely a DX12/OpenXR/SteamVR compatibility issue.

Here are some pictures from inside The Utility Room:




Developed by Lionel Marsden

Music by Nicky Vella

Sound design by Sam Riley


My recent short films including a 1 minute film, a 6 minute film, a 360 degree film and a music video.

ANNULUS (2021)

A music video collaboration between myself and Nicky Vella. Features a subterrainian marine landscape that changes form with the track.


An experimental film about a floating face that experiences a trauma.


A Virtual reality experience that takes you edge of the universe and through a door to the 'behind the scenes' where the heavy lifting takes place.


A one minute film set in a utopian future featuring a man reduced to a nose thanks to the marvels of medical science.


My strange heads. Most feature in my films as main characters.

Short Films 2015 - 2017