Virtual reality must find its social side to stay ahead of home entertainment

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With almost every major UK city boasting a VR Arcade, the virtual reality industry has emerged as a gaming growth leader. However, if VR ever wants to establish itself alongside traditional AGCs, Alexander Tsyrupa, the man behind London’s DNA venue, argue the technology must keep the social aspect of gaming at its heart.

With six months under his belt operating London’s first virtual reality arcade, DNAVR owner Alexander Tsyrupa believes that the future for VR gaming lies in “making it more social”, and keeping ahead of home entertainment.

Following this strategy, the venue’s collection of escape room, multiplayer shooter and puzzle solving games are all specifically chosen to increase player interaction, which is an aspect of gaming that home entertainment VR is currently weak in due to a lack of content and the costs of headsets.

“Usually a VR place is associated with tech enthusiasts, and we wanted to introduce this to a more general public,” said Tsyrupa. “We are mostly interested in multiplayer games and anything that can make the experience as social as possible.”

Although the nature of VR headsets limits this social aspect, Tsyrupa believes that once VR is fully established, it will provide as much collective interaction as any other multiplayer arcade machine – and continue to attract players beyond first timers and fanatics.

“There is no distinct demographic,” he explained. “We do have some gamers every now and then, but most people have never used VR before and for them it’s something very unique – many people come on their first dates!”

The threat, however, is in the quick progression of home entertainment. As headsets become cheaper, DNA VR will have to compete more and more with companies like Oculus and HTC, but Tysrupa has accounted for this.

“We understand perfectly fine that this model won’t survive for a very long time because the headsets are becoming cheaper,” said Tsyrupa.

“This project is just the beginning for us, because we want to see how the market develops, and develop our own experiences.”

One experience DNAVR is interested in developing is free roaming VR in the arcade space, offering players games such as laser tag featuring “things that cannot be implemented in real life.”
“That would be the future,”concluded Tsyrupa.

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