To paraphrase a popular song by Madonna, we are living in a virtual world. Modern technology has made it possible to create computer-generated, three-dimensional recreations of the world around us – plus worlds we could only imagine – through virtual reality (VR). In these simulated parallel universes, we are able to use special goggles, headsets and other equipment to interact with the sights, sounds, people, objects and surroundings that appear to be there.
Starting in the 1970s and continuing through today, virtual reality has been used for applications by the medical community, automobile industry, military, law enforcement, aviation, architecture and education, to name just a few. Physicians are able to operate on virtual patients and study enhanced diagnostics. Designers can test prototypes of cars and planes, and architects can build every type of structure. Military members and police officers can train for a range of scenarios they may face by land, sea or air. Teachers and students can explore places around the globe and civilizations throughout history. Therapists can even use virtual reality to help patients overcome phobias and anxiety disorders. And it can all be done safely, conveniently and more affordably from their “real” environments.
When it comes to pure entertainment, the possibilities for VR are, well, virtually endless! Many people’s first virtual reality experiences were most likely on amusement park rides, in movie theaters or while playing home computer game systems. But now, the gaming experience has been taken to a whole other level, and the tech-generated universe has exploded, with virtual reality studios, arcades and lounges becoming a popular entertainment destination for visitors of all ages.
At virtual reality locations, participants are outfitted (by helpful and enthusiastic staffers) with headsets that include speakers and googles, wired gloves, motion control paddles or wands, and vibrating gloves or apparel. There is a wide range of games, scenarios and ability levels from which to choose, some of which are played while seated, some on treadmills and others played from a standing position to allow free movement. The optical tracking sensors provide 360-degree panoramic videos and the sensor technology offers realistic sensory feedback, so that the player is completely immersed in the experience and truly feels like they are walking, jumping, racing, hearing or making contact with objects in the virtual world around them.
In New Jersey, there are now several VR venues that offer onsite sessions for both individuals and groups, providing fun and unique recreation that is continually evolving, often challenging and always exciting. Guests range from young children to mature adults who come for playdates, birthday parties, networking events, fundraisers, team challenges, corporate team building – or just a temporary escape from real life. Players can reserve individual game stations or book entire facilities, with pricing that includes a certain block of time and all of the necessary equipment and instruction. You can also arrange for their mobile teams to come to an event at your own location.
To learn more about exploring virtual reality near you, check out some of the following venues to find out hours, pricing, game options, packages, discounts and other details.
Howell Shopping Center
4012 Route 9, Unit #2B
110 Schanck Rd.
Bell Works Atrium
101 Crawfords Corner Rd.
Freehold Raceway Mall
3710 Route 9
VR Arcade NJ
157B Main St.