Monday February 20, 2017

The Void Brings a Social VR Experience to the Masses

The Void is a new studio that is bringing a social VR experience to groups of four participants at shopping malls, wax museums, multiplex theaters, etc. Utilizing a footprint of 30 square feet, each Void complex is divided into smaller rooms to emulate a New York apartment for a scene, but may become an elevator for another. Groups of four don a simple VR helmet, backpack to hold the PC running the headset, and a plastic gun. Not being tethered to a point by wires adds to the experience immensely. Then they are thrust into the Ghostbusters movie world and have an opportunity to defeat the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at the end.

Filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Ivan Reitman love the movie like aspect of the Void. They say it tells a very visceral story that is repeatable. Seems that placing four people, such as friends, into a VR room in a social setting together takes away the nausea and other problems that consumers have complained about with VR. Instead of having to purchase each person a $400 - $800 headset, PC up to spec, and more to play; only a $20 ticket per person is necessary for a 10 minute run through the Ghostbusters VR experience. Madame Tussauds New York has sold more than 43,000 tickets, translating to nearly $900,000.

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Mr. Jensen, who has a background in visual effects and video games, met his fellow Void founders in late 2013. Mr. Bretschneider and Mr. Hickman had been working on a dream project called Evermore, a physical theme park they hoped to build in suburban Salt Lake City. Mr. Jensen was hired to help with a 3-D component. When the expansive Evermore proved too ambitious, they began exploring virtual reality.

The Void, shorthand for Vision of Infinite Dimensions, now has 75 employees. "It makes sense that we grew out of a theme-park idea," Mr. Hickman said, "The Void is kind of like an old-fashioned, walk-through attraction آ— a haunted house آ— overlaid with this amazing technology that allows us to create any world we want."

He added: "It seems simple, but it’s actually very complex. There is physical misdirection and psychological misdirection. Magic, basically."