An immersive virtual reality arcade dubbed Otherworld has opened in a converted east London railway arch. Designed by the architecture studio Red Deer, the virtual reality entertainment space houses immersion rooms with its neon interiors inspired by the work of the light artist James Turrell. The effect creates a “neon jungle” with a bar, 14 virtual reality pods (immersion rooms) as well as a poke kitchen that serves raw fish dishes.
The VR space was designed for Dream Corporation’s Otherworld VR and the futuristic space bears a close resemblance to Tron: Legacy. Red Deer says it wanted to create an immersive space that would appeal to a wider demographic beyond the ubiquitous stereotypical carpeted games arcades that look like spaces straight out of the 80s.
Red Deer created this by transforming the railway arch close to the Haggerston station in east London into a Tron-esque industrial landscape that has been designed to totally alter the visitors’ perception of reality.
The brick walls of the arch were painted white and there are seven white cylindrical pods that house the individual virtual reality experience room on each side of the space. The studio design is geared at creating something of a neon jungle where the colorful light effects will soft-fade through a spectrum of shades to dramatically alter the mood of the space.
James Turrell, whose work inspired the entertainment space, is often associated with lighting effects that alter the “perception of architecture” through the use of artificial and natural lighting.
The use of custom-built booths helps integrate the extra-sensory effects into the virtual reality experiences. Effects such as the wind, rumble, heat or scent will respond to the user’s in-game experience to help in stimulating all the senses and adding to the realism of the virtual reality experience.
Otherworld will offer sixteen different experiences that visitors can choose from ranging from climbing Mount Everest to blowing up the robots with lasers or battling a zombie apocalypse.
There are shiny white tables and benches lining the space between the virtual reality pods where guests can sit and enjoy the refreshments as they wait. The floor of the entertainment space has been finished entirely in a high-sheen white.
At the back of the arch is a bar designed from Krion which has been illuminated by various neon panels and backed by a huge neon circle. Next to the lounge area is also a bar with a self-service beer tap.
The entertainment space has a bathroom decorated with simple white tiles on the flooring, ceiling and walls. The bathroom also has a trough wash basin with curved white tiles at the corners to give it a softer effect.
Like in the rest of the spaces, it is possible to program the bright neon lights and change them between a palette of colors so as to alter the mood of the environment.
When it comes to creating Otherworld, Dream Corporation put an emphasis on both the physical appearance of the arcade as well as the virtual experiences provided in the myriad titles. The space even has servers wearing padded white clothing which were made by the upcoming fashion design graduate Brea Holloway and the designs are inspired by the clothes worn by the Japanese samurai, albeit with a futuristic feel.
When guests step into the sterile white environment of the virtual reality arcade, they first encounter two identical rows of cylindrical pods with each of these having the HTC Vive Pro set-up along with the extra-sensory and haptic feedback technology that will simulate various kinds of senses to give them a realistic immersive experience. These include various scents, wind, heat and physical rumbling.
Each of the sensory effects has been synched to the in-game actions in the 16 titles that the player can immerse themselves into including Beat Saber, Google Earth VR, Arizona Sunshine, Tilt Brush, Fruit Ninja, Job Simulator, Angry Birds VR, Space Pirate Trainer, Raw Data, Accounting +, SUPERHOT, Racket NX, Fisherman’s Tale, Windlands 2 and Electronaut. Additional titles will be added at a later date.
The modern cylindrical pods are super-sleek but the rest of the Otherworld have a more minimalistic design which blend the “neon jungle” with natural lighting to provide visitors with a more pleasant and vaporwave-like aesthetic.
With slow mainstream uptake of VR hardware, virtual reality arcades are becoming the means through millions of curious enthusiasts get their first VR experience and they are beginning to sprout all over the place across the world. As competition heats up and the need for differentiation sets in, immersive arcades will increasingly emphasize the physical visual appeal of their establishments to get a competitive edge over their business rivals. Dream Corporation, harnessing the pop-culture interest in the futuristic designs and themes, is a pioneer in this regard. The company is hoping to use its cool physical spaces to appeal to the mainstream public beyond just the hardcore virtual reality gaming enthusiasts.
Those interested in visiting the arcade can book space at other.world. You can reserve the 40 and 55-minute play sessions. Pricing depends on the date and time.
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