Long gone are the days when pinball and Pac-Man ruled the local arcade scene. These machines were replaced by sleeker models with better graphics, and then by portable, in-home video game consoles. Eventually, we even figured out how to integrate human movement into our game play (the Nintendo Wii, anybody?), and now, the next big thing has arrived—virtual reality. And it’s available in your own backyard (practically).
Virtual reality (VR) may sound intimidating at first. The term is basically an oxymoron in itself— “simulated reality”, or in other words, unreal realness. I can see how this could be confusing. But hang in there, because Ctrl V, a company in Waterloo, Ontario, is hoping to make VR crystal clear for the public.
Ctrl V has just launched Canada’s very first virtual reality arcade. Essentially, VR is a platform where you can experience and interact with a shockingly realistic three-dimensional environment using specialized equipment and computer software. You just put on a gaming headset and HTC Vive hardware (including what looks like an intense pair of high-tech goggles where you’ll see your virtual world), and you’re ready to play.
At the Ctrl V headquarters on Columbia Street, there are a bunch of games to play, and a ton of space to play them. There are first-person shooter games, of course, like Jeeboman and Space Pirate Trainer. But there are also more low-key games for the inexperienced gamer, like Cloudlands: VR Minigolf, which you can play with a big group of people. And, to top it off, there are horror games like Affected: The Manor, which looks like the single most terrifying experience of all time. Maybe being scared out of your head is your thing, but I think I’ll sit that one out.
Another great thing about Ctrl V’s space in Waterloo is that it’s roomy – it currently has 16 VR stations, with each being 8×10 ft. You can go check it out alone or with a partner, or with a larger group. You can even book out the entire space for a corporate or school event! The general entry rate is $19.99/person/hour (excluding big events), so it’s a totally budget-friendly activity.
One other really cool thing about Ctrl V is that they have partnered with the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute, which focuses on games research and projects. This way, both institutes can lend each other a helping hand when necessary, and ultimately grow together in the field of games and games research. There is a lot to be learned, and it’s pretty awesome that Ctrl V and the Games Institute are going to work together to figure it out.
Now that you have a taste of what virtual reality is and exactly what it looks like, I hope it’s clear that you don’t need to be a seasoned VR professional or gaming fanatic to give it a try. So head on down to 170 Columbia Street West, Unit D for a completely new, exciting, and immersive experience. I’ll see you there!