This summer Seattle-based VRstudios partnered with Dave & Busters to deliver a wireless VR arcade, a.k.a. VRcade, at the Milpitas location in California. The custom-built wireless headset offers full head motion tracking and the system uses guns from TrinityVR, which produced similar technology for The Walking Dead experience from Starbreeze. While some people have been making pilgrimages to Silicon Valley to see the VRcade, VRstudios brought the experience to VRLA at the Los Angeles Convention Center and offered the public a good look (here’s a trailer) at the technology in action.
In the video below Jeff Bail, an organizer of the Boston VR meetup, uses a backup for the TrinityVR controller (people broke the gun when they got too trigger happy trying to fend off the zombie hoard) in the game Time Zombies with the headset and controller’s location tracked by optical sensors surrounding the space.
VRstudios is not the only company working on VR arcades, with The Void enhancing the experience with physical effects matched to VR visuals and Zero Latency in Australia charging more than $50 per ticket for about 50 minutes of gameplay with a six player co-op experience in a very large walk-around space. Both those systems use backpack-powered VR while the VRstudios solution is a lightweight wireless HMD. People at VRstudios aren’t discussing the technology in detail but President Jamie Kelly said in an email it is the same system being piloted at Dave & Busters for $5 per play.
“We started with backpack VR and, while it still has some advantages, we strive for just head mounted tech,” Kelly wrote in an email. “The pilot is almost over and we will see where it goes from here.”
The different approaches to a VR arcade offer an interesting preview of what out-of-home VR might deliver as hardware improves. While at-home consumer VR might be limited because you also have to live in the space, an arcade can offer environments that can be custom-built to enhance presence. Larger spaces can deliver co-op experiences combining the fun of paintball with the cooperation needed to survive the zombie apocalypse and lightweight gear could allow you to move around more freely in a virtual environment.