2018 VR Voice Summer Guide to VR Arcades and Location Based Entertainment
By Casey Hawkins
VR arcades and experiences are popping up around the world, allowing more players to try out select games or even experience VR for the first time. If you find yourself traveling or looking to do something different this summer, heading to one of these locations could be one of the most memorable experiences you will have. While we focus on seven specific places here, there is also a handy map present at the bottom of this page which will allow you to see most of the VR arcades and experiences located around the world.
VR World NYC – New York, NY
Located in the heart of Manhattan, VR World NYC offers a variety of over 50 VR and MR experiences as well as a friendly and accommodating staff who will help make your first VR experience feel a little less overwhelming. This place is unique in that it feels in equal parts like an arcade and a club, as the 15,000 square foot space includes a full bar as well as lounge and VIP rooms. Don’t let the lavish interior intimidate you, though, as some of the best VR games such as Arizona Sunshine, Raw Data and Superhot are on full display here, and the arcade has enough varied experiences so that everyone will find something they can enjoy.
The VOID – Anaheim, CA; Dubai, UAE; Glendale, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Lindon, UT; London – Shepherd’s Bush, UK; London – Stratford City, UK; New York, NY; Orlando, FL; Toronto, ON
What started as an experiment in Pleasant Grove, UT, has exploded into perhaps the most immersive VR experience available. The VOID, which has since expanded to numerous cities and continues to grow, breaks the mold of traditional VR that you experience in your home. Each location features fully built, real life environments which serve as the physical basis for the virtual worlds you will explore. Whereas VR experiences usually limit your range of movement to a single space, The VOID gives players the freedom to walk around and cooperate with other players. Apart from its designated locations, The VOID can also be experienced through attractions such as the Ghostbusters: Dimension at the Madame Tussauds wax museum in New York, which offers similar immersive environments based off the 2016 film. Currently, the most popular work of The VOID is Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, an experience in which you and three others are disguised as stormtroopers and infiltrate the planet of Mustafar in order to retrieve intelligence that could be vital to the rebellion against the Imperials. Players use a variety of gameplay mechanics including shooting and puzzle solving to fulfill their mission. This experience is currently available in Anaheim, Glendale, Las Vegas and Orlando.
Omniverse – Houston, TX
Omniverse prides itself on providing VR experiences that are both entertaining and educational and can cater to all ages. Families will have plenty of opportunities to play games together, but Omniverse’s library is as expansive as any other arcade, offering both Active VR, which utilizes treadmills, and Room Scale VR, which allows players to move around in open environments. The space is also accommodating for large scale family, group or corporate events. Attendees have noted that Omniverse’s VR experience is perhaps more physically intensive than other arcades, so this could be a good option for families with kids.
IMAX VR – Bangkok, Thailand; New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Manchester, UK; Shanghai, China; Toronto, ON
IMAX VR presents a distinct take on how to approach VR immersion. Each location is primarily occupied by room-scale, 12’x12’ pods that allow for free movement. Depending on the experience, players can be outfitted with D-BOX motion chairs, Subpac haptic vests, and 360-degree, over-the-ear sound, to provide real-time feedback. IMAX VR carries all of the games that you would expect from a fully featured VR arcade, and many locations are connected to IMAX movie theaters, making it easy to stop by before or after a movie.
SoReal – Beijing, China
Touted as “The World’s First VR Theme Park,” this 32,000 square foot behemoth is the brainchild of Zhang Yimou, the man behind the 2008 Beijing Olympic opening ceremony. It features eight main attractions and is supposedly the largest free roam VR experience in the world. Additionally, SoReal places an emphasis on making VR multiplayer functional and fun, and its current multiplayer spaces can support around 25 players, making it one of the largest in the world. Although it is currently only located in Beijing, there are plans to bring SoReal to more cities in China and around the world.
House of VR – Toronto, ON
Similar to VR World NYC, House of VR is a lounge space offering numerous types of VR and MR experiences as well as accommodations for corporate team building, group outings, brand activations and pop-ups, with a capacity of 275 across two floors. Some unique experiences it offers include the MR Green Screen Experience, which superimpose you into the VR gameplay, and 360-degree viewing pods for art and video content. Aside from its VR offerings, its modern design makes it look like a fun and trendy place to hang out in Toronto.
Mindtrek – Marlborough, MA; Woburn, MA
Mindtrek is powered by Zero Latency, an Australian technology company that uses cameras to track the movements of multiple players inside a large, open space. Within the arena, players can experience multiple games such as Outbreak Origins, a free roam, multiplayer zombie shooter; Zombie Survival, a co-op arcade shooter; Singularity, a sci-fi adventure; and Engineerium, a casual walking experience through a fantasy aquatic world. Although its two locations are currently exclusive to Massachusetts, there are plans to expand to New Jersey and Philadelphia soon.
Battle for Eire
Busch Gardens – Williamsburg, VA
Battle for Eire, a VR ride at the Busch Gardens amusement park in Williamsburg, Virginia, follows the story of the last fairy guardian, Addie, on her quest to rescue the sacred Heart of Eire and save the Otherworld from darkness. According to Falcon’s Creative Group, a creative services firm which oversaw the development of the experience, Battle for Eire is the world’s first 360-degree VR motion simulator, and it could be an indication as to how VR will expand into other forms of entertainment in coming years.
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Casey Hawkins is a recent graduate of Hendrix College, and now a full-time writer and editor at VR Voice.