This November, the nation’s first virtual reality bar the Otherworld arrives in its most natural habitat – Old Street Underground, the heart of Shoreditch’s tech hub.
You’ve heard about virtual reality before: All clunky wires, ridiculously expensive custom PCs, and everyone staring at your blind gyrations like you’re the drunk old man at the mainstage. These guys have fixed it all to provide experiences nothing short of mind-blowing.
They’ve built what they call ‘immersion rooms’, where they give you a wireless headset and close you off entirely from the real world. This makes the experience fully immersive. Immersion, the holy grail of VR, is something you can’t quite imagine until you’ve felt it. And you won’t forget it once you have.
Free from self-consciousness and provided with another source of sight and sound, your brain remaps itself to the new reality. Within five minutes of battling back hordes of zombies in the sun-soaked canyons of Arizona Sunshine, you’ll feel like you’ve lived in a terrifying Post-Apocalyptia your whole life. Just like the residents of Elephant and Castle.
At Otherworld, motion capture cameras track your entire body in three-dimensional space, allowing you to move freely within the virtual environment. On the screens in the bar area, your friends see and hear everything you can – until they succumb to a raging case of FOMO and get their own room and headset. Then you can play in multiplayer co-op, their avatar right next to you in the VR world despite being in the booth next door.
They offer a finely curated range of titles to appeal to anyone from hardcore gamers to well-adjusted human beings. You can be a 3-dimensional Michaelangelo in TiltBrush, a TRON-like Jedi-robot in Raw Data, and just about anything else you fantasised about when you were ten.
The price gets a bit steep at the busiest times – but then again a top-of-the-range set-up of HTC Vives, noise-cancelling headphones and monstrous computers will set you back as much as a decent car or about twenty minutes at Fabric. That’s why Otherworld propose you pay to use theirs in an environment perfectly optimised for gaming.
But this is the Big Smoke, baby. Just playing games isn’t our style. We prefer to play games… And sink some cold ones. That’s why Otherworld risks ruining its luxuriously fluffy bean-bags by stocking a selection of East London’s independent craft beers and spirits.
The only problem with Otherworld is that’s it’s slated to appear for just 12 days. On the 19th of November it shimmers away back to whatever strange dimension it came from. By the looks of their site it’s already half-booked, so we’d recommend moving at warp-speed if you don’t want to stay stuck in the real world.