Okay, okay I know this is strictly not anime related but I just seriously had to share this with you. The geek in me really geeked out and my inner otaku heart started racing at the possibilities. So what has got me all a quiver and hyped out? VIRTUAL REALITY. Even better it was virtual reality gaming. Give me a moment; there is a link I swear!
So it wasn’t as deep a dive as what nerve gear from Sword Art online would have been where most of your senses are drawn into a game and your body is left motionless in the real world. Where you control your character mentally and not with some form of a remote controller.
I was invited to Blue Ocean Virtual Reality Experience Center which has recently opened. I was eager to try it and decided to go. I had seen their stand at rAge but had been reluctant to try it out as there were a long line and the games I kept watching people play had realistic zombies, and I am not a zombie fan in any way shape or form.
So I made my way to Bedfordview centre with anticipation and slight doubt. I was worried I was going to make a fool of myself and I have seen some really bad and I mean bad videos of VR related stuff from graphics to people doing really dumb stuff.
Upon arrival, I met Eric, the owner of Blue Ocean VR and was taken through to a green room.
Go on; tell me that is not an insane amount of green? Well even though there is so much green it makes complete sense. Yes even for the floor and ceiling to be greenified. Anyway, I was shown the equipment and I must say I am impressed. The set-up has over 70 sensors that pick up what you are doing and how you are moving and basically instantly relaying it to the HTC VIVE. To the point where I didn’t pick up any delay in motion no matter what I was doing. Impressive right?
See all those circles at the top of the handheld remote and that box, yup all sensors! So good news was that the VR gear would know what I was doing and where I was, but I would not. Which really worried me as I am a really clumsy person. I eyed the walls wearily and was only too aware of the curtain sure I was going to bump into something at some point even if the headset cable only has a limited amount of length. I was relieved to be proven wrong. The guys patiently explained that there was a red grid barrier that would show up whenever I was near one of the walls or the curtain. True enough I saw the grid quite a few times and simply turned around. All I had left to worry about were my own two feet.
Now I needed help to put on the headset as well as the remote controls. They are very health conscious providing a cover that goes over the headgear where your face touches so it is very sanitary. Each person is given their own cover and when done it is thrown away.
I have a really small head so I really need the headset to be strapped on tightly so that it would not slip forward, which is kind of important. Also once you have the headgear on you are given the remotes which they help put the safety straps on. Once you are all geared up they tell you how to use the remotes. Once that is done they start your game and off you go. Well the guys with me did tell me how to get started and did remind me to reload my guns and to look up, which I am immensely grateful for!
The virtual reality is really incredibly done. The graphics are amazing and it offers a 360-degree world like in reality. You have to look around you, all around you. Up, down, behind, in front to your sides as you do in real life. Even the sound impressed me. It wasn’t overbearingly loud and I could still hear what was happening around me in real life as well as in the game.
The game they started me on is called Raw Data. It is a shooting game and I honestly prefer RPG’s, which might not be the case anymore. I was also a strictly PC gamer, also notice the past tense? I was attacked from the air and from all around me. I tried to dodge bullets and I would teleport chaotically around the room trying to get away from the robots attacking me. There were quite a few times where I would forget (like a true moron) to shoot the stuff attacking me from behind, so I would turn around and almost have a heart attack because there was this robot looming over me and I would go nuts shooting it to get away. So yes I had fun! See why I am glad they reminded me to reload? I did die a few times I won’t lie, but that was also kind of cool because I would see the character I was playing (lying on the floor dead, but still) and then I would respawn back in the middle of the room.
Playing like that instantly brought to mind the .hacks where they also had controllers and headgear that sent them into VR games.
Although I do prefer the mobility that this style of VR gives you. I know there are VR devices for your phone where you sit down but the mobility is just completely different and freeing. I agree with Eric, this is the future of gaming and a whole lot of other ventures. I even had the opportunity to play around with 3D painting although I did mainly just play around with the various effects you get. Still, it was awesome to stand in the middle of my squiggles and have bubbles floating around me. It was also amazing to see the depth of VR when I was shown some of the 3D art and could look down over the edge and past my feet as well as way up above me.
Needless to say but I couldn’t help but think, finally. The dream of gamers of really being ‘in the game’ is not that far fetched anymore and the technology is really advancing amazingly that I really can’t wait for gaming similar to that of the .Hacks. I still think Sword Art Online nerve gear tech might still be a bit of a challenge though.
This whole experience has blown my mind and I must say I am hooked. When I first saw their pricing I did flinch and think wow. However, after actually experiencing it for myself, I can say confidently it is really worth it! Plus they offer really great discounts during the week and to students. If you ever get the opportunity to go, do it. You won’t regret it.
Booking is essential! You can call Blue Ocean Reality Experience Centre on 072 733 5346 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their addy is 905 Bedford Centre Office Tower, cnr Smith rd and Van Der Linde road. Since I got lost, it is the Bedfordview shopping centre (the massive mall) and if you can’t find the office tower speak to the security guards in the mall or find your way to the Mug and Bean where you can then phone them and one of the team will come and find you.
Just note that it is addictive! Or at least it was for me and I am already planning my return trip. A big thank you to the Blue Ocean Virtual Reality Team for patiently explaining the rules to me and guiding me through it!
You can also find them on Facebook!
What do you think of the whole Virtual Reality scene?