You can experience the sensation of virtual reality in Brisbane without splashing out on a headset of your own.
Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has speculated that we’re all living in a computer simulation — and once you see what modern virtual reality (VR) technology is capable of, you won’t find that hard to believe.
“VR is the next generation of gaming technology, and we expect it will grow into many other industries,” says EVR spokesperson Alexander Van Cooten. “By using a VR headset a user is able to ‘look into’ and see virtual worlds that are computer generated. They can then interact with these environments with special controllers, for example, shooting guns and painting with virtual paint brushes. Instead of looking at a screen and watching a movie or playing a game, you will actually feel as if you are inside the game or movie.”
Of course, none of this is particularly revolutionary in theory — the concept of virtual reality has been around since the 1930s, and primitive VR gaming systems (like the Virtuality and Sega VR) first appeared in arcades in the early ’90s. If you’re particularly unlucky, you might even have owned one of Nintendo’s notorious Virtual Boy systems.
But virtual reality aficionados say that this time is different — that technology has advanced to the point where real immersion is possible, and VR is here to stay.
EVR (Extreme Virtual Reality), a pop-up arcade in Norman Park, has the latest VR technology on the market.
“We have mobile seated experiences using Samsung GearVRs, and room-scale experiences where you can walk around and interact with virtual environments using HTC Vive and Oculus Rift,” Van Cooten says.
The pop-up arcade is pitched squarely at young adults and parents with children, but can also accommodate corporate events.
“We have a library which consists of a wide range of experiences for both boys and girls. These include first-person shooter games, swimming underwater with wildlife, painting in three dimensions, puzzles and more,” Van Cooten says.
“I personally love Walk the Plank in VR, where you start off standing on top of a virtual building and have to walk along a virtual plank to save the kitten stuck at the end of the plank. You are at least 15 levels above the ground and it is scary to look over the edge of the plank and see the ground so far below. It is a simple experience but very powerful. You have to remind yourself that you are still standing on solid ground in the real world.”
Of course, if virtual reality is that convincing, there’s a chance we’ll all just give up on human interaction all together and bury ourselves in our digital worlds. But Van Cooten says the possibilities for the technology are positive, for the most part.
“As with all good things, we can also use them for bad,” he says. “Since computers have evolved, we now have mobile phones which allow us to connect with our loved ones and find the answers to almost any question we have. VR is simply the evolution of that, where we will be able to travel to places that we couldn’t previously afford, and meet face-to-face with friends and loved ones located overseas while we have fun playing a virtual game of golf together.
“Gaming is just the beginning. We see EVR as an introduction for anyone who is interested in this technology to come and try it out. We are also involved in Queensland education, where we see VR having a huge, positive impact in classrooms where it will allow children to travel and see places around the world from the safety of their school, or complete dangerous science experiments without the worry of anyone getting hurt.”
EVR Arcade is open now at flexible times throughout the week at 97 Wynnum Road, Norman Park. For more information and to make a booking, visit extremevr.com.au or call 0468 752 485.