Battle the zombie outbreak to save the (virtual) world | By Paul Morris
It’s exciting to play a video game sitting on your couch, but think how exhilarating it might be if you could enter the game and physically walk through the digital world. And now, we have the technology that allows you to go through the digital looking glass and immerse yourself in the virtual world of a video game. This amazing advance to the gaming experience is available right in our backyard. Octane Raceway in Scottsdale—a popular place for indoor go-karting, arcades, and celebrations—has just opened the first free-roaming multiplayer virtual reality gaming center. I told my teenage son about it and he responded: “I want to go!” (This was the longest conversation I’d heard from him in a week.)
Eight players slip on lightweight backpacks, swim-goggle-style face masks, and earphones, then carry plastic pump-action rifles into the playing arena. The room spans 3,500 square feet, and a series of cameras placed along the ceiling helps the computer system track the movements of each player.
On first glance, it’s an empty room. But once your goggles turn on, you’ll suddenly see a digital expanse of flat ground running to the horizon, covered in a blue ground fog. You can hear the other players talking, and if you move near another player, the headset cautions you not to bump into each other.
You now see a shooting gallery with a target. Players can practice for a few minutes with their gaming rifles to get a sense of how they work and their accuracy. When the game begins, you find yourself inside a futuristic world. You see walls and lights and hear sounds. You can squat down and peer around a virtual corner to check if the next room is free of zombies.
It’s a good thing you are here. A viral plague is destroying our world, creating angry zombies intent on killing you and your comrades. You are on a mission to find your way past the undead and locate the organization behind the plague virus. You will use a series of weapons (assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles) to protect your group and possibly save the world! For the next half hour, you will wander through a dystopian world, saving your friends and reducing the number of zombies. It’s a good feeling to be a hero (even if you are technically a virtual hero). Go and save us, please.