One of the most fun software experiences to come out of this year's VRLA was Escape The Room Experience headed by Pop Up Gaming, a service that combines multiplayer, interesting software builds, and one awesome virtual reality rig. Imagine four Vives suspended in the air for four separate players to play one software build with. Couple that with a group of friends to work together and solve puzzles in a virtual framework, and you've got the keys to fun.
Pop Up Gaming supports virtual reality gaming from two to sixteen players, and the demo they had on the show floor, albeit simplistic, was downright fun. Harrison Goodbinder, President of Pop Up Gaming, and his band of merry VR businesspeople grouped me with other players on a rig that set up four small standing-scale environments where we literally played virtual reality dodgeball. I flung a virtual ball at someone's virtual face, and they actually ducked to avoid getting virtually hit--you get the idea. But the real fun started when we put our heads together to work out puzzles and escape the virtual prison we were in. Each player was represented by a floating head and hands--we waved to each other as we appeared on the playing field to try and beat the countdown timer. Unfortunately, we didn't break free of the room (and I don't think anyone else did at the convention either).
Pop Up Gaming (PUG for short) states their mission on their website. "We want to inspire people to try the wonders of VR while being educated on the potential dark futures of it. We want to do all this people interacting together through technology, together in a social setting. We think of it as theatrical gaming." That's an interesting point, as the five of us on the VR stage were shouting out to each other, while onlookers watched us fumble around and look silly with headsets on (something that I doubt will ever be improved).
PUG looks to "blur the line between live theater and video games." I think their experiments in this field definitely turn heads, but it maybe be a stretch to say that they've combined theater with VR. There are certain implications to say about combining both disciplines, but we're happy to see that they're pushing the bleeding edge of experiences with interactive games that aren't just about sitting at home in a corner, marvelling about something new. This breaches the VR capability line. We'd like to see what PUG has up their sleeves next for software.
Check out their site to see details of their Escape the Room Experience and if you'd like to rent their VR rigs for a good time.