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State Press Places: A virtual reality arena built for the height of video game immersion

Explore interactive, computer-generated environments with a local VR arcade


Graphic published Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018.

As we continue to push the limits of virtual reality technology, getting a glimpse at what the experience entails has become progressively easier. The in-home usage of these goggles is mainly limited to online multiplayer video games in confined spaces. However, developments in this technology have enabled its application in a host of new environments. 

Based just 15 minutes from the ASU Tempe campus is one of the valley's virtual reality attractions, Velocity VR. They offer a "multiplayer, free roam" virtual reality experience fit for large groups in an expansive arena. 

Rich Scheirmann is the marketing manager for Octane Raceway, the facility which houses Velocity VR as well as a variety of other specialized rooms suited for go-karting, miniature bowling and more. He expounds upon the type of experience you can expect at Velocity VR and why any ASU student should consider visiting.

Alfred Varela: Virtual reality goggles have proven themselves as a mainstay in gaming culture in recent years. As technology has improved, we've seen great strides made toward making the experience more immersive and less expensive. What may have been a costly endeavor only a few years ago is now more readily available than ever before. But if you still can't warrant purchasing a headset for yourself, you may be pleased to hear that not only do virtual reality rooms exist,  but they're abundant throughout the Valley. Perhaps one of the most prominent of these is Scottsdale's own Velocity VR, a "multiplayer, 'free roam' virtual reality attraction."

Rich Scheirmann: The best way to describe it is to say that it is a virtual reality experience that's untethered, which means there are no wires at all. You have a backpack on, you have goggles on, you have a controller which is basically a gun. You wander around inside our VR arena, and you are tracked via motion balls. It's a 360-degree immersive experience in a virtual reality environment. 

My name is Richard Scheirmann. I am the marketing manager at Octane Raceway, and Velocity VR exists inside of Octane.

Alfred Varela: So how does this all work in practice? What does an experience at Velocity VR entail? 

Rich Scheirmann: You go in with seven other people. You can see each other in the game and you can see the walls and corridors that you have to move down. Like I was saying, the game is fully immersive. It is a collaborative effort to try and obtain an objective. If you come in as a single you might get teamed up with another group. Overall sessions run 45 minutes, each game is half an hour.

Alfred Varela: As for the type of experience offered, Velocity VR has a variety of games available for whatever adventure you or your team chooses to embark on.

Rich Scheirmann: Currently we offer three games. There's one game for group events that's 15 minutes where you battle zombies. We have a second game that is called Singularity. In Singularity, you are a team that is sent to investigate a secret military outpost space station. The space station has gone dark and you have to find out why. The last game we have is called Outbreak Origins, which is another zombie game. A deadly virus is wreaking havoc on society. The antidote gets stolen and you need to track it down. 

Alfred Varela: In addition, Velocity VR reassures everyone that despite some preconceived notions about the type of person to frequent a gaming lounge, they welcome any and all looking to get a glimpse of the future of this technology with a memorable experience to boot. 

Rich Scheirmann: As the marketing manager, I have a tendency to target gamers more. However, my 14 year old daughter loves it. So there is really no demographic I think. I think if you've played a game at all ever, you would enjoy this.

Alfred Varela: If you ever need a break from exploring virtual reality, Octane Raceway, in which Velocity VR, resides offers a host of even more activities. 

Rich Scheirmann: Octane Raceway, we are a high end go-karting facility. We have a 1/3 mile course that goes inside and outside and then combined with that there's also our Brickyard Grill. We have games, prize winning games, we've got mini-bowling, so there's a number of things you can do inside the facility. 

Alfred Varela: So if you're a student looking for an opportunity to experience a bellwether for the future of multiplayer, virtual reality technology, just know the Velocity VR is but 15 minutes from the Tempe campus and is perfect for anyone looking to get in on the action.

For The State Press, I'm Alfred Varela. 

Previous Episodes:

State Press Places: The mysterious castle looming over Phoenix

State Press Places: A class for goat lovers and yoga enthusiasts

State Press Places: Unconventional relaxation found at a cat lounge

State Press Places: The experimental eco-city tucked away in the Arizona desert

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