My poor kids got stuck with a mom who is anti-screens and anti-tech. Give me books, give me outside experiences, give me the theatre. That’s my jam. So, when earlier this summer, I told my boys I had booked our family a VR (virtual reality) experience, well let’s just say I wish I had my camera ready. Their jaws dropped almost to their feet, and the squeals of joy were deafening.
As I don’t enjoy gaming at all, I’ll be honest I went in with super low expectations. If I don’t like screens and I don’t like video games, how was virtual reality not going to get added to my list of new-fangled-modern activities that just didn’t appeal to me? Can you tell where this was going? Do I have to say it out loud? Yes, I was wrong. VR is actually ridiculously fun. And a VR experience where you get to move, rather than sit, is even better!
Zero Latency (Main Street and Broadway in Vancouver) offers up Canada’s largest free-roam virtual reality experience. In non-tech speak that means you put on the virtual reality goggles and you move your body through the game. You aren’t sitting, you are walking, you are dodging, you are turning. You are physically interacting with the virtual world projected in front of your eyes.
Virtual reality experiences tend to be aimed at the late-teen, early twenties age group. It isn’t an activity generally geared to families. But Zero Latency is changing that! While they certainly have games for people who like zombies, space aliens, and a more violent experience, they also have two virtual reality experiences for families (or those, who like me, don’t like anything scary or violent).
Mission Maybee – ages 10+
Arkie needs your help to defeat Dr Maybee before he pollutes the entire planet. Together your group works to suck up the green goo, use water bubbles to take out attack-birds, and battle Dr Maybe.
Engineerium – ages 13 +
This experience is one everyone should have to do. If you want to feel like you can defy gravity and mess with your sense of up and down, this is a must-do experience. All four of us picked Emgineerium as our favourite. While the age range says 13+, our 10-year-old took part and loved it. Your child needs to be big enough, and strong enough, to hold the VR equipment on their body (weighted backpack, goggles, headset). The participants also need to be able to stick together and follow the path of the game. Intentionally pushing the boundaries of the game’s programming will ruin the experience for the participants.
Tips for a successful experience at Zero Latency:
- arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time. There is paperwork you need to complete and you don’t want to eat into your VR time.
- be prepared for the owner of Zero Latency to ask for your cel phone. He takes awesome videos of you and your group during in the VR experience. We had a few good laughs watching ourselves (I discovered I move like a penguin when wearing VR goggles).
- go in with a full stomach. If you are prone to motion sickness (I am) you can still absolutely enjoy this experience but make sure you aren’t trying this on an empty stomach.
- we did two 15 minute experiences (Engineerium and Mission Maybee) and that was perfect! Thirty minutes of VR seemed the correct amount of time for our entire group. We loved the experience; we will definitely go again (the kids are already planning birthday parties). If we had gone longer I think our brains may have tired out and felt overwhelmed.
- if you can leave your glasses at home, do. If you have contacts, wear those. While the VR goggles can accommodate glasses, it isn’t the most comfortable feeling. If you have larger frames, it is a bit of a squish to get them in the goggles.
- wear comfy clothes and comfy shoes. You are moving about.
I highly recommend Zero Latency for a fun family adventure. It was a totally new experience for our family and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.