Late in 2018, my partner and I went to the Elephant Arena in Elephant & Castle, London. Inter Pub Gaming (IPG) had an installation, and we had a go at playing co-op Serious Sam in virtual reality (VR) together. We lost several times, though we managed to get to the end with a massive mummy slowly stepping towards us. Fueled by alcohol and frustration by multiple losses, we won. Working together, we both successfully fought against a horde from hell, as a co-operative
Several words describe virtual reality arcades. PubVR experiences is a personal favorite, though VRcade is a nice, short-form way of describing it. But generally, the public
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What is a virtual reality arcade?
Virtual reality arcades are installations in a public location, such as a bar, pub or beer garden, where participants can play with VR games for a small fee. The arcade can be a solo unit in the corner of a
There are various locations around the UK, particularly in London. IPG has several installations in London, including the Elephant Arena and the Four Thieves. Occasionally, the Loading Bar hosts VR setups as well. In Nottingham, Zero Latency opened a warehouse-scale installation, where people can fight zombies in multiplayer games.
Virtual reality gaming and experiences
Since 2014, when Facebook bought Oculus, there has been a resurgence of companies making virtual reality games for players to use. The PSVR has seen great success with new IPs like Tetris Effect and ASTRO BOT. The Oculus Rift, alongside the Oculus Go and upcoming Oculus Quest, has seen some great interest among technology journalists and enthusiasts alike. The HTC VIVE is also a popular virtual reality headset, with very high fidelity and quality.
Some party games work very well in the home. Beat Saber, a personal favorite, gets people in the mood and swinging to play games. Beat Saber is also great for cardio, something which many players may not have the time to do otherwise.
In virtual reality arcades, set-ups normally have the HTC VIVE. With its reliability and quality of controls, the virtual reality headset provides many experiences for players to use and play with. Provided that there are clean tissues to wipe the sweaty lenses afterward, the games are set.
What is the cost to start a VR arcade?
Likely to be expensive. The first step is to rent space, which is extortionate in London. Then multiple HTC VIVES, and the corresponding powerful PCs, need to be bought and maintained, alongside the games to run alongside them.
Then there needs to be a trained attendant who handles the virtual reality headsets, making sure they do not break. Drunk people may play, which adds a layer of risk.
As long as the VR arcade gets a flow of customers who use the set-up, then it may work well for the company. Arcades have already seen enough success to pop up along the UK and USA, and continued growth is expected.
Corporate events and birthday parties
Virtual reality arcades can be used by friends who catch the eye of a set-up and want to have a go. This was what happened with my partner and I. Additionally, it can be used for corporate events and birthday parties for fun with friends and colleagues.
This is where virtual reality arcades flourish.
In any case, immerse yourself into a new experience and have fun.
Games for virtual reality arcades
There are numerous games which work well with virtual reality arcades. They include:
1) Serious Sam VR: The First Encounter
Fight alongside the Earth Defense Force and fight against the hordes of hell, with a variety of massive guns. From chainsaws to shotguns and chain guns galore, the co-operative experience is a great way to pass the time. The experience goes well with mulled wine and cider.
2) Escape the Lost Pyramid
Set in the world of Assassins Creed, participants work together to work out how to escape a pyramid. As an escape room concept set in VR, it takes certain liberties which would be far too dangerous in real life. In virtual reality, the barriers are broken down and the experience is more dangerous than any normal set-up.
3) Loco Dojo
Made by the excellent people at Make Real, Loco Dojo is a party game with a series of ‘trials’ that players can pass. With 16 minigames to play, there is a large amount of fun for players. The game also features the voice of Brian Blessed, which is always a bonus.
How popular are virtual reality arcades?
Reports indicate that interest is steadily growing. Greenlight Insights report that arcades provide consumers with a way to demo VR. It provides a cheap, easy way to try it out without the powerful PC or headset. This means customers are interested in trying them out and buying a set for themselves. Virtual reality arcades are part of the customer journey towards a purchase. According to their survey, 53% of consumers are interested in arcades.
This may change in the future as headsets enter the home. With a premium experience ready to be played with, then people may be less likely to go back to arcades. However, this is far in the future, and for now, arcades provide a gateway to great games to play.
Dirty VR headsets in arcades
One topic I have seen raised consistently is the filth gathered from headsets used by multiple people.
Imagine playing a video game, moving arms about in Beat Saber or Fruit Ninja. Getting a high score takes tenacity and focus, and sweat starts to build. Eventually, eyes blinking, the headset is removed to reveal a hot-faced and happy player.
Cleaning the headset afterwards is incredibly important. Germs can spread very quickly, and no user wants to have a hot and misty headset after vigorous use. Wet wipes should be used liberally.
Editor, Virtual Perceptions