BizBash - Fall 2017 - 36

Reality Check

VR World

VR- and AR-focused spaces and attractions offer multidimensional, often mind-blowing, events for planners
and participants. By JEFF HEILMAN

A

s the dual trends of people demanding
unique and memorable experiences-
and the preference for participation over
mere attendance-accelerate and continue
to transform the meetings landscape, physi-

cal virtual-reality playgrounds are emerging as a new
venue option for groups.
VR simulates real-world or imagined environments. In most cases, participants wearing headgear
or goggles are tethered to a VR system and, while us-

ing hand controls, engage in multidimensional games
and experiences lasting anywhere from around 10 to
20 minutes. Now emerging on the market are venues
for untethered, or "free-roam," play. Helmeted and
wearing the VR technology in backpacks, participants
can walk about "in" the game, with virtual weapons
or other devices in hand.
In development and promising even more
immersive experiences are augmented-reality and
"mixed"-reality technology. The former enhances, or

CONTINUED ON PAGE 38

PHOTO: NIETO DICKENS

VENUES

"augments," actual physical environments with virtual
elements. The latter, also known as "hybrid reality,"
combines physical and virtual elements to create new
environments experienced in real-time.
From the first wave of location-based VR pioneers, here are some coast-to-coast options for
meetings, private events, corporate outings, teambuilding, and more.
Earlier this year, America's largest indoor waterparks operator, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions,
added a VR experience called the Arena to its
Wisconsin Dells flagship and to its location in
Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains.
Using pioneering motion-tracking VR technology from Melbourne, Australia-based Zero Latency,
the Arena-which spans more than 2,200 square
feet-represents the first warehouse-scale, freeroam, multiplayer VR experience on the market.
While Kalahari does not yet offer the Arena for
private events, planners booking at the property can
tie in group sessions at the venue. Accommodating
eight players at a time, the Arena currently of
offers three virtual games: Zombie Survival; the
Engineerium, a walking adventure in a water-filled
alien world with flying whales, stingrays, and other
colorful characters; and Singularity, a battle game
aboard a military space station.
No plans have yet been announced for introducing the Arena at Kalahari's Sandusky, Ohio, location, or
at its forthcoming fourth property, slated to open in
Round Rock, Texas, by 2020.
The same Zero Latency technology and three
games are deployed at MindTrek VR, a new facility
just north of Boston in Woburn, Massachusetts, that



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