The buzz surrounding The VOID has been stirring for quite some time now, and after much anticipation I finally got my chance to check out this one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience while passing through the Salt Lake area over the weekend. If you haven’t heard about The VOID, it is the epitome of immersive virtual reality entertainment, allowing up four participants to simultaneously embark on a cooperative warehouse-scale adventure.
Currently The VOID is debuting Ghostbusters: Dimension, a brief standalone VR experience. I purchased tickets online for the whole family several days in advance because space is limited and by appointment only. Although the site recommends that participants be ten years old and a minimum of 48 inches tall, I still brought my eight year-old along since he met the height requirement. When we pulled up to the Lindon, Utah location, the large grey building's concrete facade was dotted with numerous windows, which seemed to give a brief glimpse of the wonders inside. We eagerly exited the car and made our way to the entrance.
After a small hiccup while checking in, and signing the waivers for both adults and minors, one of the attendees directed us towards a small room with a TV where we watched a brief video demonstrating how to put on the haptic vest and head mounted display. The attendee returned after the video ended and led us to a room where all of the equipment was kept. Every participant’s vest, helmet, and gun hung from custom riggings designed to help each user don their VR accoutrements with as little effort as possible. Buckles on the vests were magnetic making them easy to clip on, and the HMD was tightened and loosened by turning two knobs. The visor itself functioned much like a welder’s mask flipping up and down making it easy for the user to transition from real and alternate realities if/when needed. Once we were properly outfitted the attendant asked us to stand within the bounds of a square area on the floor, to pull our visors down, and wait for the light in our virtual world to turn on indicating that we were ready to open the door and enter the ghost dimension.
When I pulled my visor down I was transported to a hallway. Standing in front of a door to an apartment I turned to find my family there but in a slightly altered state. Each one of them wore a helmet and signature Ghostbuster coveralls. In their hands they grasped a blaster. Then the light turned on. My son reached forward towards the door and found the handle exactly where it should be. I finished pushing the door open and we all shuffled into the confines of the virtual apartment.
For the next ten minutes we were Ghostbusters, blasting gargoyles, apparitions, furniture and decorations in the various locations within the experience. The Stay Puft Marshmallow man even made an appearance. What made the entire experience feel eerily believable was the scale of the space that the user could move in, combined with the accurate overlay of the VR environment on real-world objects. However, the icing on the cake was the masterful use of haptic technology and other effects. Upon walking out onto a window-washers scaffolding suspended by two cables to the roof of the apartment building I heard the cars below, the scaffolding swayed gently from the building and fans blew a stiff breeze into my face. This particular part of the experience really demonstrated the magnificent power and potential of VR.
Although we were all having a blast the experience came to an abrupt end when we opened a door thinking it led to the next part of the experience, when in fact this triggered the end. Because of this we never got to face off against the giant Stay Puft man. Saddened, we flipped up our visors and made our way back to the suiting up area where the attendant helped us remove our equipment. Our entire visit to The VOID from check in to exit lasted about 20 minutes. The experience was brief but it was worth the money considering that there isn't anything like it in the world.
- Great use of haptics
- Fun and engaging
- Appropriate for most ages and experience levels
- Additional rooms for birthday parties and trying out other VR hardware
- A little expensive for families ($25.00 per ticket)
- Some tracking loss
- Little else to do after experience is over