Virtual reality involves the use of a host of computer technologies to generate a simulated, three-dimensional environment or ‘world’ that can be explored and interacted with by a person. While immersed in such a virtual environment, the person can not only see but also move, manipulate objects or perform other — sometimes remarkably complex — actions. By tracking the person’s motions (especially head and eye movements) and correspondingly adjusting the images displayed in the VR headset to reflect the change in perspective, the virtual environment is presented to the person’s senses in such a way as to create the illusion of reality: three-dimensional images appear life-sized, movement seems lifelike and the person feels ‘inside’ or part of the virtual setting.
Virtual reality has long been considered a promising technology that never really caught on. Back in November 1992, Computer Gaming Magazine confidently predicted “affordable VR by 1994.” In actuality, challenges primarily with hardware — the physical mechanism for successful delivery of the virtual experience — meant that VR would stay limited to a trickle of clunky prototype simulators and interactive 360 degree photographic panorama displays for a few more decades. At the time of writing, however, VR has since emerged as a significant technology across fields as diverse as engineering and education, medicine and the military, architecture and archaeology — and, of course, cinema and entertainment.
Virtual reality as entertainment can now be experienced in Chiang Mai at the VR Cafe, located close to the Night Bazaar. Combining full VR experiences with a panoramic coffee shop, lounge bar and restaurant (serving Thai food, salads and appetizers), VR Cafe provides around thirty games suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced players aged 8+. From beginner level action shooters like Zombie Training Simulator to intermediate level co-operative simulations like Eagle Flight and the advanced VR Worlds — in which players choose to go face-to-face with a great white shark, crawl through decaying space hulks, weave between oncoming traffic, survive a futuristic battle-sport, or take part in a gritty London gangster thriller — players are spoilt for choice. Adventure, space, horror, and sports games are also on the VR Cafe menu, as are arcade-style smart phone phenoms like Fruit Ninja (try Fruit Ninja VR if you dare – it’s ludicrously addictive).
VR Cafe offers two-tier pricing consisting of ‘regular’ (i.e. casual / drop-in) rates and a heavily discounted (around 50%) ‘membership’ rate for fifteen minute, half-hour and one hour sessions. Membership is nominative, with one membership card able to be utilised not only by the individual ‘member’ but his or her spouse/partner and/or children. VR Cafe can also be booked for private events and parties — both real and virtual!
Open 2pm – 11:30pm (closed Mondays)
Le Dta’Wan, 456 86/1 Sridonchai Road