Get your game on with VR 

Online gaming in its new avatar allows players to meet, greet and beat fellow challengers just like in the real world
Get your game on with VR 

Video games have evolved significantly from yesteryear computer games, especially the first versions of Nintendo and Atari. “Covid pushed us to innovate,” says Hareesh Mothi, who founded Breakout in 2015. “We realised that people like to enjoy such experiences from the comfort of their homes,” he says. “Breakout ensures that each room has its distinctive theme, plot, and game flow, which are seamlessly incorporated into a movie set-like decor that brings the entire experience alive. You can enjoy movie-styled physical escape rooms with hyper-realistic ambiences that make players feel like a protagonist,” he adds.

The days of pixelated screens and limited sounds are over and the latest boom is being seen in virtual escape rooms, which are online activities conducted via Zoom and other platforms. An escape room game, originated in Japan, is a real-time adventure game inside a themed room filled with challenges. Teams solve mysteries, puzzles or riddles in a fixed amount of time, with a goal of “escaping the room”. The popularity of VR gaming is evident—in the last decade it grew at 25 percent to $12billion in 2019 alone and is expected to grow at 30 percent from 2020 to 2027. 

The thrill in these gaming rooms is palpable. Be it solving a murder mystery, racing against time to defuse a bomb, warding off a terror attack or fighting coronavirus... anything is possible in the virtual realm of escape rooms that offer succour amid the pandemic.  The onset of Free Roam VR in India allows users to be transported into a virtual world untethered by wires, and roaming around freely in a warehouse-scale space is driving the launch of VR arcades in the country. “The experiences in these arcades are active and lifelike where players play in a social environment (involving motion capture technology and proximity sensors) giving them the thrill and fun to enjoy with their family and friends,” says Parineeta Rajgarhia, Founder of Zero Latency. 

Namit Sharma, a 32-year-old software engineer, finds thrill in solving mysteries. “The good thing about escape rooms being played online is that I can now play with my friend in Europe,” he says. Pranika Bhargava, an eight-year-old student of La Martiniere Girls College, Lucknow, is another ardent fan. “I have not met my friends since the outset of the pandemic. But with escape rooms, we get to play with each other in a real environment every day.”

Indians, particularly the millennials and Gen-Z, are driven by the YOLO culture and are thereby more attracted to such premium experiences (VR arcades) and products (VR headsets). “They are keen to enjoy a heart-pounding, life-like experience in a simulated setup along with their friends. They can feel the adrenaline rush unlike when they play alone on devices or VR headsets at home. Hence, VR experiences and arcades fill in the gap and we are witnessing great popularity in the metro cities. It is only a matter of time before penetration across the country will aid its growth,” Rajgarhia adds. 

Not surprising that game developers are increasingly expanding their focus to develop VR games and tying up with companies to make them compatible with latest technology thereby wanting to garner a market share at an early stage. Even as most of us have little to no control over the pandemic’s narrative out in the real world, there is an interesting parallel universe where you do have a chance to save humanity from this invisible nemesis. There too, the clock is ticking.

Gamer’s World

Stride: Run, slide and leap across an unlimited city of rooftops. Requires lots of arm movement.

Beat Saber: It is a dance game—slash blocks in particular directions, avoid bombs, duck obstacles.

Moss: Player is a helpful spirit, guiding a little mouse hero on a journey through a magic kingdom. 

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The New Indian Express