Toronto’s first Virtual Reality lounge and event space opened on Saturday and we were there to check it at an early Media Preview.
With VR becoming more and more popular it was only a matter of time before something like House of VR would pop up in the 6ix. It’s a futuristic arcade, gallery and event space, and is located in the historic Burroughes Building at 639 Queen St West. The space used to be occupied by my friends at Nuvango and conveniently located across from my favorite bar in the city, The Dime.
“91% of Canadians have yet to try Virtual Reality,” says owner Jonah Brotman. “Once you put a headset on, you’ll be blown away by how immersive the experience is. House of VR wants to be the central hub of Virtual Reality in Toronto.”
House of VR features 10 “View” units (for example, with these you could take a tour of Italy or climb the Eiffel Tower) and 13 “Play” units (The first floor has Mixed Reality where players are green-screened into the game, and the upstairs has your standard VR gaming experience). Games and experiences will be updated every week encouraging return visits.
The mixed reality could use some fine tuning and it’s unclear if players will be able to save their videos at this time. It’s not the easiest thing to shoot but when it’s done right it’s a pretty neat experience. Here’s a good example – CLICK ME
My favorite part of the massive two-floor attraction is the interactive pillow lounge with hand-gestured controlled lighting, color changing murals, and the comfiest pillows I’ve ever sat down on. This room also faces onto busy Queen St. so passersby can watch you swing your arms around in VR.
There is plenty of special events planned for the future including a virtual reality Art Battle that guests will be able to vote on.
There were no Playstation VR units on display but I hope they include them in the future. We tried both the HTC Vive and the Samsung Gear VR. The HTC Vive systems run a custom Springboard interface that makes it fairly easy for the player to navigate. I’d recommend checking out for a minimum of two hours as it does take some getting used too. Professionals will be on hand to help you out, and the staff working the launch we’re extremely friendly and helpful.
Next time my mom is in town I’ll be sure to bring her by the space to finally give her a look at VR.
It’s worth noting and for those of you who listen to the weekly Game Moose podcast know I have been dropping hints about a VR project I’m working on. Those details should be out soon enough and I’ll be able to tell you the best games to check out while you’re at the House of VR.
For more info check out HouseofVR.ca. The space is now open to explore.
All photos by the legend himself, Sambar Anthony.