a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Jan, 2018

(re)Visiting Colony VR

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Ottawa

Some of you already know that our eldest daughter is in her first year of university and has been away since September. I didn’t write much about this (although you saw her in my recent post about the live butterfly exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Nature) but she was home over the holidays and we had LOTS of time together as a family, which was really nice.

Here’s where I admit that I wish I was made of Hardier Canadian Stock and was better equipped to brave subarctic climate, but I’m not. I had grand visions of going cross-country skiing and skating on Parliament Hill, but alas, that did not happen because we are wimps. We did, however, visit Magic of Lights and an escape room (as mentioned here) but another highlight for me was a visit to Colony VR, just off Preston Street. Strangely, it’s been almost exactly a year since our first visit, which I wrote about here. I was eager to see what had changed…

Basically, it’s exactly the same: Concrete walls, VR pods along one side, and little else.

Colony VR (Virtual Reality in Ottawa!)

The biggest differences were that we brought our own snacks this time (so SMART) and new games added to the playlist. Despite the rather dreary setting, this was enough for me. It is a VERY fun outing, whether you have kids in tow or not. We brought our teens, obv. (I think they’d be annoyed if we left them at home.)

Virtual reality is the future of video games, and it’s a very cool experience. This time we booked two booths for one hour, so each booth had two people and each pair took turns playing.

There is something for everyone, truly. My games of choice included:

A comic-book type shooter called Zombie Training Simulator.
This was totally my speed. It was easy to figure out the controls, had plenty of beginner levels to try, and wasn’t too scary. (It’s a game for kids but hey, I am totally ok with that.) It may sound obvious, but it’s important to note that in the realm of VR gaming, your gameplay area is all around you! That being said, I appreciated that my zombies only attacked from one direction – straight ahead of me – not above, below, and behind me, like the advanced zombie game Mark tried out. (Eek!)

This video will give you a good idea of the gameplay:

Plank Not Included.
This is one of the best virtual reality games I’ve ever played. I should point out that we were warned that it could cause vertigo or motion sickness. The virtual world has you balancing on a plank. You are holding two controllers, one of which is a net. The goal: to catch a bird that is hovering just out of reach, and of course, not lose your balance and fall. Once you catch the bird, you graduate to the next level, which is higher. Different scenarios feature fun distractions that may cause your downfall (literally). For example, there might be a rat on the plank, or a spider, a train, or a fire-breathing dragon. The trailer will give you a good idea of what it looks like:

On one level, I found myself in a cave, balancing on a log floating down a river. I didn’t catch the bird in time so I plunged over the edge of a waterfall (!), log and all. The fascinating part of this game, for me, is the effect it had on my brain. I really felt as if I was falling! At one point Mark suggested I step off the plank – I was balancing between two skyscrapers at the time – and I had to do everything in my power to step to the side, even though I knew full well there was no plank and that I was perfectly safe.

Oh, and if you do step off the plank, you fall. It’s a very weird feeling, to be sure.

Yes, I picked a game called Accounting. I only played it for about 10 minutes and it’s not, er, exactly for kids. There’s a lot of bad language and mature themes. In fact, the content warning given on the developer’s website is for: “cartoon violence, gore, suicide, tax work.” Also someone MAY bled all over me during the game. That being said, it really opened my eyes as to what VR games could be like. At its core, this game is essentially a series of easy puzzles you have to solve in order to make your way through this weird world.

All in all, if you’d like to be wowed and haven’t yet been introduced to the world of virtual reality gaming, I do recommend a visit. If you’re looking for a coupon or a promo code I recommend following Colony VR on Facebook because they’ll post a special promotion or dealio every once in a while.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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