If you have been meaning to try Virtual Reality in Ottawa but don’t have the necessary equipment, there is now 2 locations in where you play VR games. Colony VR and XPR have pay by the hour options where you can try playing one of the many virtual reality games.
While avid gamers will be quick to love playing virtual reality games, the experience truly is for everyone. I’ve now tried playing VR games with a huge mix of people, and everyone who has tried it loved the experience – even my grandmother!
To play virtual reality games, you will need a powerful video card such as the GeForce GTX 1070 or 1080 which retail for $500-1000, plus the HTC Vive or Occulus Rift which cost between $800-1200. Moreover, you’ll need ample space where someone could move around without the fear of bumping into furniture or tripping on a wire (both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift do come with motion sensors to warn you if you about to bump into something).
How To Play
Both Colony VR and Xpeeria use the HTC, and to play a VR game, you need to put on a headset (pictured above) and headphones and hold a controller in each hand to play the games.
For both the HTC Vive and Oculus there are wristbands you can tighten to ensure you won’t drop the controller. For both systems, the standard way to move in the game by moving around in your space, and to interact with anything from picking an object up or shooting is using the trigger button underneath the controller (each game will show you within the game how to play and what buttons to press).
It is best while playing VR games that you have flat shoes and comfortable clothing as some of the games can be physically active. Also due to the headset, you won’t be able to wear a top knot or high ponytail when playing VR.
Xpeeria allows you to pay for time with an expert in a variety of different topics, and I signed up for the VR gamer experience with Sam. With XPR you purchase the experience you want to try then are contacted by the coach to coordinate a time that works for you.
The VR gamer experience takes place downtown Ottawa on Sparks Street, in Sam’s office when the employees are gone, so timeslots are often available on weekday evenings from 5 pm-7 pm. The prime downtown location makes it perfect for an after work activity with a friend which you can follow up by getting dinner after to talk about your experience in the VR games.
It costs $50 an hour for 1-2 people, who can split the time playing games from Sam’s extensive collection of over 40 games for the HTC Vive!
Colony VR specializes in offering rentable virtual reality spaces and is located at 58 Beech Street in Little Italy. It is open Tuesday – Friday from 5 pm to midnight, and Saturday – Sunday from noon to midnight. There are 6 virtual reality rooms available for rent each with an HTC Vive, and a 55″ tv along with bar stools and tables for friends to sit down and watch. With the multi-room setup, it would be ideal for large groups, bachelor/bachelorette parties or even birthday parties.
Each room is set up as a green screen, and shortly those green screens will be used for mixed reality videos and photos which I find super exciting, as you friends could then take pictures of you within the games you are playing! Another fantastic feature of the rooms is the headset wires are from the ceiling which means you never have to worry about tripping on the cables, which would be something difficult to achieve if you were playing the HTC Vive at home.
Each room, also called a hex, costs $40 an hour and the price can be split between the number of people using the hex. To ensure everyone has some time in the game, I would suggest between 1-3 people per hex if you are only spending an hour which would give everyone time to briefly try 2 games.
The selection of games is currently expanding, and there was a useful guidebook which helped suggest games and gave parental notes about games that might be inappropriate for children. I found the staff working when I visited outstanding; she was there to support my group when we had questions about what game to try, or even when we might get stuck within a game. My entire experience Colony VR was outstanding, I had so much fun and left eager to return!
What Games To Try
To begin, I recommend starting with the Steam VR tutorial which will teach you how to move around and use the controllers.
After you’ve mastered the basics in the tutorial, The Blu is an excellent choice as it is a short interactive underwater movie, and there is little required beyond moving to see fish or whales.
Finally, to complete your first hour playing VR, I would try The Lab, where you can play fetch with a robotic dog in a gorgeous landscape, play a slingshot game, or play my personal favorite longbow (an archery game).
If you have more time I would suggest trying: Star Wars in VR: Trials on Tatooine (fight with lightsabers), Tilt Brush (3D painting), Job Simulator (a comedic game where you can be a chef, office worker, car mechanic or convenience store clerk), Richie’s Plank Experience (confront your fear of heights), or I Expect You To Die (become the next 007) just to name a few of the massive collection of VR games available.
No matter if you try the more private VR gamer experience with Xpeeria that offers a larger selection of games, or the multiroom Colony VR which has a more professional room setup and soon to be mixed reality green screen you are certain to have a blast playing VR games. Every time I watched someone put on the virtual reality headset their face always lit up with pure joy and awe, and I’m confident you will enjoy the experience too. So, don’t take my word for it, try some VR games for yourself!