Virtually a zombie apocalypse

Zero Latency, the world’s first warehouse scale, free-roam virtual reality experience, has just opened in Brisbane. It’s only the second site in Australia (the first is Melbourne) and the 13th in the world.

Tim Ruse, Zero Latency’s CEO and co-founder, says Brisbane was a perfect demographic for the Melbourne based company. “It’s a real tech savvy place and becoming a real technology hub.”

“Toward the end of 2012, Oculus Rift had been announced, and real-life, laser tag zombie experiences were quite popular at the time. Scott Vandenkelaar, CTO and genius who came up with a lot of the initial code, thought ‘why not smash the two together?'” said Ruse about the idea to start a free-roam VR experience. The other appeal was the ability to get gamers out of their homes, off their consoles, and out socialising with each other face to face. Well, Oculus Rift to Oculus Rift.

They raised $32,000 from crowdfunding to set up small ‘pop-up’ games for two people, and managed to get seed money to expand from there. ‘Zombie Survival’ is now the most popular game in the warehouse setups. ‘Singularity’ and ‘Outbreak’ are the other ‘shoot to kill’ type games, and ‘Engineerum’ is the MC Escher-style puzzle solving game.

Playing Zombie Survival is a reality-shifting, head trip. While the zombies are too out of focus to appear too threatening, the really unsettling part is being a full size avatar within the game and without any real sense of balance or spatial awareness. All players are suited up by the Game Master in an antechamber off the main warehouse. Equipped with backpack containing a computer, a VR gun, headset with microphone and, of course, the Oculus Rift headset, you receive instructions about the virtual and physical space inside the warehouse.

“If people are in there for more than 45 minutes to an hour, they experience a sense of disassociation,” said Ruse. “It’s kind of like a dream-like state. The more you’re in there, the more your body accepts this is reality.”

Kinda sounds like being in the movie Inception but it’s not as serious, nor as difficult to follow the story. The worst part would have to be coming out of the warehouse and viewing  your score on the screens in the foyer. Let’s just say some of us are unlikely to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

Zero Latency is at 34 Chester St, Newstead. Up to eight players can join at a time and the cost is $66.00 per player per game. Go to their website for more info.

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