Virtual Reality: Top Experiences for Kids & UK’s Best VR Centres
Virtual reality wasn’t something you’d hear about much less than a year ago but suddenly it seems to be everywhere! Giant, odd-looking headpieces, futuristic pods that teleport your mind into a different world….it all sounds like something right out of a sci-fi movie. Feeling a bit out of touch with the new craze? Don’t worry, we’ll catch you up on all you need to know about VR!
What is Virtual Reality?
OK, let’s start from the beginning! VR or virtual reality technology creates a 3D digital image that you can see and interact with, as if it was real. And when we say “real”, we mean it!
Touch the ground, smell the grass and feel the wind blowing in your face, all while moving around freely and exploring the environment. This is the level of realism we’re talking about. So, forget everything you know about restrictions of gaming; when it comes to VR, the possibilities are limitless.
There are many different ways to experience virtual reality - from Sony and Google’s VR headsets that you can plug in and use at home; all the way to the high-end HTC VIVE, Oculus Rim, and a whole range of fully-immersive VR simulators, available only in specialised VR centres. The fact is, once the headset is on, your world will change!
Virtual Reality Centres - are they worth it?
VR arcades are starting to pop up all around the country but are they worth a visit? The answer is “Yes, yes, and yes!”.
As fun as putting your VR headset on and playing in your living room is, going to a specially designed virtual reality center gives you the chance to get much more out of the experience. Here are some of the benefits you get:
- Accessible for all - Let’s face it, VR technology is cutting-edge, so it is pricey. Not everyone has the means to spend a few hundred on a cool new gadget (not including the games). Plus, even if you’ve got the money, it would be much easier to decide whether you really want to own a personal VR headset, if you’ve had a go first. VR arcades simply make the whole experience accessible for anyone who’s willing to give it a try.
- Great selection of experiences - Unless you’re willing to spend all your savings on upgrading to the latest technology and keeping your VR experiences library up-to-date, a VR centre will always have more to offer in store.
- Choice of virtual reality simulators - Room-scale VR simulators give you space to walk around and move freely in the real world, while you explore your chosen virtual reality. Standing simulators allow you to move but in one spot, while with seated simulators you just sit back and immerse into the digital world around you. Most VR centres will have more than one of these types for you to try.
- It’s safer - When your VR headset is on and you start actively interacting with your surroundings, the real world tends to get forgotten. As cool as the whole experience is, having a designated space where your kids won’t be bumping into the coffee table, or knocking vases over, sounds much safer.
- Pros on hand - Need help selecting an experience, setting up your VR headset, or simply looking for a quick tutorial on how to play? The staff at any VR centre should be trained to provide all of these services with ease, making virtual reality accessible even if you’re not a gamer.
Virtual Experiences for Kids
Virtual reality is what you make of it. Much like any other gaming experience, it also comes in a range of games suitable for different age groups. Kid-friendly experiences are available for children as young as 10 (or even 8).
You don’t have to enter chilling horror mazes, or bloody thrillers to have fun in the digital world. There are plenty of educational virtual reality experiences out there and we’ve got a few examples, starting with theBlu - a game which will take you family into the depths of the ocean on an exploring expedition where you’ll meet the most incredible underwater creatures up-close. Truly mind-blowing!
Speaking of educational, The Lab will give your curious little scientists the chance to learn about the solar system, fix a robot, become friends with a mechanical puppy and much more. When used correctly, virtual reality has the potential to teach kids in a fun and engaging way.
Virtual reality experiences feel so real that they are bound to leave an impression on your kids...and you! The fact that you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean you won’t be totally engrossed by the experience. Imagine taking your family walk to outer space and floating amongst the stars. This will definitely give you something to talk about on the way home and long after!
The Best of Virtual Reality Centres in the UK
More and more VR centres are opening doors every day but is there one near you? Check out some of our favourite pioneers in the field and find out!
ImmotionVR is one of the rising giants in virtual reality entertainment and when it comes to virtual reality simulators, ImmotionVR is king!
From fully-immersive VR Cinema Pods that will blast your right into the world of CGI wonders, to the VR Racer which will have you race the world’s fastest tracks, and the free-roaming standing virtual reality simulator, VR Explorer - ImmotionVR has everything you could dream of and more.
2. VR HERE
With over 40 virtual reality experiences on offer, VR HERE Liverpool is bound to have a little something to match your taste. Remember, theBlu and The Lab - the experiences we mentioned earlier? They are amongst the kid-friendly games on offer at this arcade.
3. VIRTUALITY - The Virtual Arcade
Here’s our pick from the West Midlands - VIRTUALITY - The Virtual Arcade in Wolverhampton! This fun-packed techy paradise offers everything from seated games, to room-scale virtual reality experiences with 100ft² of space for each player to move around in.
In terms of choice, well, your options go from walking alongside dinosaurs to piloting a spacecraft, exploring the Wild West and fighting giant robots...
4. VR PIT
VR PIT is a small, family-friendly venue in the picturesque town of Yeovil in Somerset and Bristol. Welcomed by the nice and helpful staff, you won’t want to leave and when you do, you’ll certainly want to come back again!
Want a snippet of the virtual reality experiences on offer? The young superheroes in the family will have a blast trying to walk in the shoes of everyone’s favourite friendly neighbourhood superhero in the Spiderman Homecoming VR Cinematic experience. Love retro gaming? You can also play some of your favourite classics, including Minecraft and Fruit Ninja, in VR mode.
5. Vertigo VR
Vertigo VR in Milton Keynes got us excited because it has all the cutting-edge innovation you could possibly need. It’s not only about room-scale gaming, but also thrilling VR Rides (which will rock your world in all the right ways).
Want more? Get the adrenaline rush of a free fall without the danger of getting hurt, thanks to the fully-immersive VR Sphere, which can simulate the experience with up to 90% accuracy.
The centre is open until late (8pm on weekedays and 11pm on Fridays & Saturdays), so you can go with the kids after work and have a great time at the end of the day.
Want more ideas for days out with kids who love gaming? Or maybe you fancy some budget-friendly digital entertainment at home? Check out these 5 awesome apps for gaming families, or find your favourite on this list of this year’s best new kids' films.