There’s a lot of chatter over VR these days and opinion on the tech seems to be divided straight down the middle. Because it’s a conversation that keeps cropping up, we figured that we’d break down the five reasons why we’re all for virtual reality!
1. It can drop you into situations that physical attractions can’t
A lot of the appeal to us with scare attractions comes from being able to encounter environments and situations that aren’t the everyday. Coming face to face with zombies, werewolves et al, in their ‘natural’ environments is a fantastic experience. VR can take that one step further. Physical scare attractions are limited by the space of their venue, their creatures need to be human-shaped (unless they’re investing in animatronics) and the fact that they obviously can’t put their guests in danger. VR can ignore all of that! Look at the above screen – if a designer wants to throw the audience into a minecart, above a pool of lava with a gigantic beast, they can do it! We understand the counter argument to this is that the graphics aren’t photo-real but we’ve always taken the view that this doesn’t affect the experience in the same way that animated films aren’t any less valid than live action ones. Photorealism would be awesome but it really isn’t necessary for us to enjoy the immersion.
2. Intellectual properties are exploiting the technology
We’ll happily admit that we’re suckers for IP-based attractions. The prospect of walking through and experiencing our favourite movies first-hand is a very shiny carrot! It’s why we know we’re likely to be back at HHN next year even though we’ve had a pretty crappy experience at both the Hollywood and Orlando incarnations. As far as VR goes, film companies really seem to be embracing the medium; from mini experiences that you can view on your phone using Google Cardboard such as the Insidious 3 seance through to full on games such as Paranormal Activity – The Lost Soul. Then there’s Ghostbusters Dimension which isn’t commercially available but can be experienced at Madame Tussauds in New York and other locations soon. That particular attraction recreated the first movie’s hotel scene with Slimer where he charged Peter Venkman. We felt the impact of Slimer careening into us, we got sprayed with something – we basically lived that scene!
3. It’s now an affordable home technology
VR is easily accessible now – anyone can buy a cheap headset for their smartphone and enjoy videos and experiences in the virtual world. For a more feature-rich adventure, the PSVR unit is sub £500 and the Oculus Rift hovers at around that price mark with the Vive being a tiny bit more expensive at around £800. But, considering that the Vive is used in attractions such as Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park, the technology is cheaper than you’d expect. It doesn’t feel as out of reach as it did when it first popped up in the 90s.
4. It can approximate real-life attractions well
We came up with the idea to start doing our Virtual Scares posts when we noticed that some of the games simulated things that we’ve been through in the ‘real world’. For example, Weeping Doll was pretty much a virtual escape room and the next game that we cover (this Sunday) takes that idea even further. We’re experiencing games in the virtual world that could absolutely be recreated in the real world. This doesn’t clash with our first point as we also like the idea that we can get a 100% authentic escape room experience in the comfort of our own home if we so choose. Being able to drop into a virtual estimation of a real life attraction can be a fairly decent consolation prize when there’s nothing currently running or within reasonable distance to you!
Taking it one step further, a Delusion immersive theatre show in LA is being adapted for VR technology. So an actual attraction will exist in the virtual world. We’re interested to see how this translates. Given that we’re in the UK and can’t exactly travel to LA at the drop of a hat, this is a good second best scenario. We doubt VR will ever get to the position where it replaces physical attractions but it potentially offers a good substitute in certain situations.
5. It has exciting future applications
We saw one thing recently that opened up our eyes to a genuinely useful application of the technology. The Dark Ride Project is a fantastic idea, a sort of preservation project for dark rides. Joel Zika is, with permission, taking 360-degree cameras into dark rides and recording their path. This then translates into a virtual reality experience where you can get as close as possible to experiencing now-closed dark rides or ones that are on the opposite side of the planet. It doesn’t replace the real thing but, in the absence of nothing, it’s a pretty neat concept and one that we feel should be supported.
So there you go, we love VR and think it’ll only get more interesting as more people adopt it. Let us know if you agree or disagree with us in the comments below and if you think we’ve left anything out!
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