Welcome to the Virtual Realm! I'm Wanderer, and I'll be your guide on an exhilarating journey through the captivating world of Virtual Reality, where the boundaries of imagination merge within cutting-edge technology. Join me in this blog as we dive deep into mind-blowing experiences, explore mind-bending possibilities, and witness mind-expanding innovations that VR has to offer. So, buckle up and strap on your headset as we embark on an adventure into a whole new Reality!
By now, it's likely that you've either experienced Virtual Reality firsthand, own a headset, or know someone who does. The avenues to plunge into a virtual experience are numerous and varied, and I'll touch upon some of these fantastic facets. However, let's kick off this blog on a more personal note — with a story about my first-ever VR experience.
Growing up in the late '90s, I was a fervent video game enthusiast, experiencing the excitement of innovative gameplay. Despite the fun, there was always a dream lingering — the dream of actually "going into" the games we played. I craved more than the joystick-and-buttons limitations, and the desire for a more immersive gaming experience was a constant companion.
Fast forward to 2016 when I finally got a taste of that long-off dream at a VR arcade in Edmonton, Alberta. Having watched videos, read reviews, and fantasized about it for years, I walked into the establishment with palpable excitement. The atmosphere exuded a cool and futuristic vibe, announcing, "HELLO! WE ARE THE FUTURE!" Signing a waiver, I was ushered into a VR "Pod" — an 8-foot by 8-foot square room with three walls and an opening facing the hallway. The anxiety of looking silly dissipated as soon as I put on the HTC Vive headset and held the controllers. It was love at first sight.
Immersed in a world of possibilities, my friends and I spent an unforgettable hour in "Arizona Sunshine," battling zombies in the mines during the exhilarating "Horde mode." The experience was a blast, allowing us to forget the outside world and dive into a virtual zombie-slaying adventure together.
For years, I frequented that arcade, but owning a headset seemed like a distant dream. It wasn't until 2019, after saving up and investing in a high-performance computer, that I finally acquired my first headset — an Oculus Rift S. Miraculously, I also got one for my twin brother, ensuring I had a gaming companion. VR became my sanctuary, providing an escape from the stresses of life.
As the pandemic unfolded, I found solace in the fact that I had invested in VR. being able to attend lectures on VR Chat and play immersive games like WarThunder VR with my brother and foe. Still, the longing for the communal arcade experience persisted. Those moments of going out with friends, gaming for hours, taking breaks, grabbing snacks, and diving back in — they were irreplaceable.
Wandering south, I found that VR-communal joy at Arcadia VR Lounge in Kelowna, BC! Joining the Arcadia Game Works Dev team connected me with a fantastic group of fellow nerds and gamers to create our own amazing, immersive experience. We wanted to develop the "arcade experience" in Kelowna, and so we created the Party Patio. This turned into hosting NERD n BREW on Friday nights (aimed to introduce VR and arcade gaming to the 19+ audience). Then, the Birthday Party Room and Dev Studio underwent renovations, transforming into what you know now as the Braka Cafe!
Aside from more incredible renovations to come and constant Tech and Equipment updating and upgrading This journey into the Virtual Realm has just begun! I want to hear from you — what aspects of VR are you curious about? Comment in the next blog post with your burning questions or topics you'd like me to explore.
In the upcoming post, we'll delve into some amazing experinces I've traveled, the incredible journey of Critical Mass and hopefully some questions answered. Until then, keep your headsets charged and your imagination soaring!