Everyone seems to be going Virtual Reality crazy at the moment – with those headsets popping up everywhere from games of footy to restaurants, with people looking stupid flapping their arms to nothing and shooting invisible zombies while everyone else carries on with their lives in the real world.
I must admit that it’s pretty good though and it seems like it’s only going to get better and better. The best I had as a kid were those terrible racing games which looked like binoculars with buttons on top and managed to induce some serious headaches after only about 3 minutes of play.
Nowadays though you can expect all sorts of bells, whistles and experiences – which is why a visit to Virtual Hideout near the Great Northern is such a good idea. We went down last week to check it out and they have over 100 different games and experiences to play on and they were all pretty mint.
The one I remember the most is probably the simplest. Once you’ve put the VR headset on you walk into a lift in a city and head to the top floor. Once at the top you’re faced with a plank of wood that extends out of the window – very much like a pirate ship plank but much, much higher.
The idea is to walk out on the plank as far as possible and what seems like the easiest thing in the world suddenly becomes the most frightening.
My head knew that I wasn’t really on a plank, but my body still refused to walk out onto it and before long I was shaking, sweating and generally shitting myself. It felt so real and I only managed a couple of steps become running back into the lift like the little scaredy-cat that I am.
Once I’d calmed down and watched Steven fail the plank challenge too we went on to some more traditional games; there was the brilliant Fruit Ninja which you’ve probably played on your phone, Beat Saber which is a combination of Guitar Hero and Star Wars and the excellent Longbow which sees you trying to defend a castle from invaders using a bow and arrow.
Granted, current technological limitations ensure that the graphics aren’t always the best but it doesn’t really matter – once you’re in there and plugging away at shooting aliens or punching people in the face – it feels real enough – as the plank proved.
In addition to all this, VR feels like something that will always be getting better, with improving graphics and more immersive experiences coming out all the time. Virtual Hideout doesn’t just offer games but there’s also horror experiences, stuff to do as a family and even games that can help kids learn stuff. I can imagine it won’t be long until Ready Player One becomes a reality.
Virtual Hideout, Unit I, J and K Deansgate Mews Great Northern, Manchester M3 4EN
0161 834 7336