VR that lets you play against friends? It’s now in India
It’s a scene straight out of Ready Player One. You strap on what looks like a bulletproof vest (it’s actually a computer), adjust your headphones, put on your headset and step into a digital world.
It could be a gravity-defying fantasy where pathways twist and turn and whales swim in an ocean overhead, or a post-apocalypse where you and your friends are zombie hunters waiting to be rescued.
India’s first fully immersive virtual reality gaming centre opened earlier this month, in Mumbai. You’re not tethered by wires or confined to one spot. Here, you get to roam about, run and crouch, hold a ‘weapon’, take aim, and shoot.
Zero Latency is run by an Australian company of the same name, and has set up shop here in association with entrepreneur Parineeta Rajgarhia.
“We had played a few of these games at arenas abroad and were really excited at the possibility of bringing this to India,” says Parineeta Rajgarhia, who owns the Mumbai franchise.
A 45-minute session at Zero Latency at Todi Mills costs ₹899 to ₹1,699 per head. Four different games, both exploratory and mission-based, can be played by one to eight players; children under 13 are not allowed.
Gameplay is seamless. Your every twist and turn translates instantly. If a zombie kills you, you respawn in a few seconds. The experience is too novel to be taken out of the game before it actually ends.
When it does end and you take off your headset, it will take a few seconds to realign yourself back with the real world, though.
“I’ve played video games before, but nothing like this. There came a point when I refused to move ahead, because it felt so real. And it feels like the zombies are really clambering onto you,” says Tunushkaa Pamwani, 23, who played with seven of her friends.
On a monitor outside, your scores are displayed. You will get to know who among your group has killed off the most zombies, how many times you were killed and if your trigger happiness has earned you a place on the leaderboard of fame, which lists the 10 highest scores ever made.
“What’s really exciting are the possibilities of the technology yet to come,” says Rajgarhia. “Soon you will be able to use haptic feedback gear to simulate real physical interactions such as opening doors and pushing buttons. And that’s just the start.”