Virtual Reality: Haunted House Game Changer or Passing Fad?
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Virtual Reality is the newest rage in Haunted Attractions. Understandable, considering guests can go virtually (see what I did there?) anywhere! Virtual Reality can be a space saver. A simple VR setup requires nothing more than a PC, the device (which is a headset and 2 controllers used as virtual weapons, similar to a Wii), a chair, and a place to stand. Even with a small physical space, VR space seems endless and the monsters have unlimited potential. This set up is often used and works great as an addition to the haunted attraction itself. This option gives guests something to do before the show, or even after if they are still craving more scares.
In more sophisticated VR setups such as Halloween Horror Night’s The Repository in Orlando, FL, customers are free to roam and explore. The Repository includes live actors, virtual reality, and even escape room-like environments and puzzles.
Very, very frightening me!
VR immersion is deep and tantalizes almost all of the human body's senses. Reviews such as this one by 303magazine.com, claim that the experience is terrifying and that it was so realistic, that the writer even attempted to run away! In addition, the Denver Post visited Epic Brewery’s VR haunted house and claims that in comparison to regular haunted houses, VR is “worse — or scary-better, depending on your perspective.”
Mama mia let me go!
While it may seem limitless, VR does, in fact, have its limits. As pointed out in this article, there is currently only one “roomscale” VR device available. While viewers are allowed to explore their environment while wearing the device, its range capability is that of one small room. Though it would be possible to have several small rooms with multiple customers, I see VR more as an appetizer and not a main dish. In addition, it is costly. Expect to pay about $800 for a mid-range PC build capable of VR gaming. A single HTC Vive VR headset runs about $800 so you’ll be sure to want an employee monitoring and assisting each and every customer with the device(s). From a customer perspective, the main gripe I've seen is the price tag of the experience. Many places are charging $50 and up for a VR experience and the customers simply feel that is too much. Price is definitely a factor for both sides.
Easy come, easy go.
While I do think Virtual Reality is a game changer, my belief is that it is temporary. How temporary? That I don’t know. I think it works great as an additional activity for the customers to experience before or after the main attraction, but that is it. To me, nothing beats the atmosphere of a REAL haunted house. I want to actually walk though and explore, not pretend. I want to see the hard work and details that go into each and every set, I want to see the makeup and costume details of the actors, and I want to be scared by an actual person jumping out at me! I don’t want to see a computer program. I believe VR is definitely an experience, I just don't believe it can ever replace THE experience.