Video games have always been popular. Pong, one of the very first arcade video games, was released in 1972 and it helped to establish the entire video game industry. Games have changed a lot since 1972, though, and technology has developed to the point where players can immerse themselves in the games they play.
One of the ways this can be done is through VR (virtual reality) games. VR Arena in Causeway Bay offers video game fans the chance to experience this.
The arena is on the 23rd floor of Kyoto Plaza, right in the hustle and bustle of the district. Cables and wires criss-cross the walls, which are covered by multiple television screens. Dotted around the room are large black (for lack of a better word) “pods”, complete with straps that are attached to a swivelling structure. These will assist a player’s movement during a game.
Playing a VR game is a full-body experience; players strap themselves into the pod, and wear sound-cancelling headphones and VR goggles that provide a 360 degree view of a virtual world. Players are also given a pair of special shoes to “run” in – both in the real world and inside a game.
There’s something for everyone at VR Arena. Games include fighting with zombies, robots, and humans, and both solo- and multiplayer options are available, so you don’t have to rock up with your friends if you don’t want. After popping on the goggles – which we found to be uncomfortably tight – and headphones, we were transported to a digital landscape far away from Hong Kong. It took a little getting to used to, but before long we were scrolling through our gaming options like we’d been born to do it.
The controllers are fairly easy to use, which makes aiming at and shooting opponents a breeze – but we think there are a few other improvements that could be made to the experience. Our visual input would sometimes lag, which hindered our ability to play, and our headsets – designed so that players can communicate with one another – would occasionally fade out, making working with your teammates difficult.
The sensors in our shoes weren’t particularly responsive either, which meant the plate that we stood on didn’t always register our movements. The physical exertion we put ourselves through meant we needed to take frequent breaks, and the constant spinning around we did left us feeling slightly dizzy and a little sick.
Having said that, none of this really registered until after we had finished playing – the entire experience was so entertaining that an hour had flown by before we knew it. Sure, you can play a game on your phone with your mates, and avoid getting sweaty and tired, but that is nowhere near as enjoyable.
If you find yourself with a spare afternoon, round up a few of your friends and try this fun, immersive experience that will take you (almost literally) to another world.
Causeway Bay, Unit A, 23/F, Kyoto Plaza, 491-499 Lockhart Road
One hour game: HK$120 per student (HK$160 for adults)
12pm till late (reservations essential)