In a world where Virtual Reality lies just outside the grasp of everyday entertainment, nearly every studio working with the medium is seeking to make a product that is accessible, or revolutionize an industry that isn’t entertainment.
Washington-based company VRCADE isn’t attempting either of those options. Rather, VRCADE have their sights on the mass market of arcade gaming.
If you look anywhere in Canada, public gatherings include gaming in one form or another. Vancouver, and the lower-mainland is privy to a dozen high-quality arcades. Arcades maybe be fewer, but those that have survived, have retained their popularity. Thanks to the advancement of the arcade titles, and our insistent desire to exchange little machine-printed tickets – usually won in large strings – for prizes of various (but always lower) value.
Where does this venue fit into the vision of a future where Virtual Reality is the consumable source of our entertainment, you might ask. VRCADE wants to answer that puzzling conundrum. And a lot sooner than maybe any of us had thought.
Using a proprietary wireless virtual reality head mounted display (or HMD as they call it), and a host of other unique features, the VRcade system is capable of creating experiences unlike anything that is available in the home today, or in the arcade.
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Attending the first-annual Consumer VR Show in Vancouver recently, I got the chance to speak with VRcade, and test out their system. What looks like an Orson Welles inspired cattle-pen, with high pyres that hold up sensors, players (up to either) can walk around in tether-less headsets, in spaces as large as 30ft by 30ft.
The demo available was a gallery-style target shooter called Barking Irons. It was fun, and silly, but would only retain any entertainment value in short bursts.
“We believe people would rather spend $12 for an experience, than $1,500 on a home PC, plus a VR set-up,” said one of the company’s executives pitching to potential buyers.
Unfortunately the actual experience is far greater in quality than the games offered by the studio. But this may change. And as is included in the product info, the systems will support/adapt new software. The team boasts a “growing library from leading VR developers which will allow clients to change gaming content as desired.”
VRcade stuck out like at CVR, being the only name there not purely promoting the technology, or it’s impact on home entertainment. Rather, they were selling. Though the line for their short demo was extremely long (some claiming to have gotten three minutes of gameplay after waiting for two and a half hours), many suited businessmen were ushered in without a hesitation due to their expressed interest in purchasing a VRcade set-up for whatever business/location they were representing.
It seemed like a show pitch for investors/buyers, instead of the expression of VR adoration, and consumer impact that was shown by every other booth in attendance. Taking the “consumer” out of the equation at the Consumer VR Show.
But that shouldn’t matter in the end. What VRcade is doing to advance an area of the entertainment industry is nothing short of revolutionary. Their hygienic, wireless headsets are nice to wear, and designed to take the abuse of the general public. Their “extremely low visual latency” and “error-free tracking resulting in no disorientation” help bridge many gaps that have kept the public from enjoying VR for a long time.
VRstudios, and VRstudios Solution are doing big things for the development of both VR equipment, and VR experiences.
Hopefully, if we’re a lucky bunch, all of the local arcades will pick up VRcades, and those who don’t bring VR into their homes, will have the ability to experience VR with their friends with the VRcade.