VR attractions trends at InfoComm 2019: Social interaction and game mechanics

Blooloop partnered with AVIXA at its recent InfoComm exhibition and trade show to deliver an education session on VR attractions trends.

infocomm 2019 logoInfoComm is a world-leading audiovisual trade fair. It is also the biggest in North America for audiovisual (AV) communications professionals.

Ready player two?

The session examined how out-of-home VR attractions are evolving to create experiences that will tempt gamers away from their consoles.

VR attractions trends and strategies: Technology v IP

Jonathan Elkoubi has over 15 years’ experience in the attractions sector, notably with VR World NYC where a curated selection of over 50 VR attractions are presented to deliver a socially engaging experience. He is founder of Navew, a consultancy specialising in AR/VR preparedness for established entertainment venues.

Jonathan ElkoubiJonathan discussed the different approaches of VR attractions today and the tension between technology and IP.

VR attractions like The Void and Jurassic Park at Dave & Busters are very much IP focused, and in some ways the technology is a secondary consideration.

With VR World NYC,  Jonathan says the primary driver was to present the technology in a “socially friendly” environment where people can discover the technology for themselves. “It’s not meant to be a universe.”

Free roam VR

Zero Latency created the world’s first Location-Based Free Roam VR experience. Phil Martin who heads up the Zero Latency, North America team, discussed how this early entrant to a fast growing market is Phil Martin Zero Latencyadapting to meet the demands of future audiences: “Disrupting from the ground up … Adapt or die”.

VR in LBE has a reputation for unreliable equipment which is cumbersome to put on and take off. Zero Latency have developed their next-gen product to make set up easier for venues and to improve ROI.

In additon their latest game -Sol Raiders – social interaction and sharing are at the centre with a step towards creating an eSports game with competition across venues worldwide.

The success of free roam VR Phil says is down to social interaction and accessible game play: “People love it because it’s social … It’s not about hardcore gaming, you need accessibility.”

“I’ve done VR before, but [Zero Latency FR VR] was like, so much better.”

In the words of PewDiePie: “I’ve done VR before, but [Zero Latency FR VR] was like, so much better.”

VR game mechanics

Gaming design veteran Dave Elton, General Manager of DreamCraft Attractions, delivered a review of the evolution of mixed reality location-based entertainment experiences. He then talked about the impotarnce of a good story and also good game play in creating an engaging and repeatable experience. Dave explained how video Dave Elton Dreamcraftgame mechanics can help create that compelling, adaptive, and responsive content.

But content is not the only factor in making VR rides a commercial success. The time taken to clean VR headsets after every use was a limiting factor in throughput when DreamCraft were tasked with the retrofit of an existing 59 seat flying theatre at Busch Gardens Williamsburg with the Battle for Eire VR attraction.

For Battle for Eire, the design team came up with a neat solution for the problem of fitting and cleaning VR headsets which allows a throughput of 1000 visitors an hour. Traditional VR headsets require sanitising after each use could not approach this rate, and therefore the solution they devised is to split the headset into two parts. There is a piece which goes next to the face and is collected at the end of the ride but is cleaned in batches. The more expensive VR equipment then magnetically attaches onto a new reusable element and does not require cleaning after every ride, thereby cutting costs and set up times.

DreamCraft are also part of the creative team behind a new next-gen VR rides for Lionsgate Entertainment WorldThe Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride.

The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride is the world’s first multiplayer interactive hyper-reality VR simulator experience. Riders race with werewolves in a VR dirt-bike adventure through moonlit woods using newly patented ride technology. Although inspired by the Twilight IP, the ride’s ground breaking technology and game mechanics have created a thrilling social experience unlike any that visitors will be able to achieve at home.

The future of VR attractions: Social, interactive, compelling story and game play with innovative hardware

A fascinating session drawing together three different perspectives. It was interesting to note the key themes between speakers – that a successful VR experience is driven by social interaction, a good story and game play mechanics rather than just a recognisable IP. And that practical ways to make the equipment more reliable and easier to use are the way forward for throughput and ROI.

Thanks to our speakers and to our friends at InfoComm and Avixa for supporting our attractions technology sessions.

Our other sessions at InfoComm were:

Image: The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride