Last Thursday my family and I went to Ctrl-V in Waterloo. It’s essentially a virtual reality arcade. We’d heard about it from Twitter and the local media and thought that it would be cool to check out. I will admit to being a bit skeptical; virtual reality was supposed to take off in the 90’s and never really reached critical mass. When I think of virtual reality, I think of bad movies like The Lawnmower Man. I was prepared to be underwhelmed. My other concern was that I can’t handle IMAX movies or planetarium shows; they give me motion sickness. My worst experience was in the Canadian pavilion at Epcot and the 360° hell that was O, Canada!
The booking process is simple and can be completed online. We had two coupons that gave us 50% off the experience, so for 4 people to each play 1 hour cost us ~$50. Prior to arrival they ask that you read and sign a liability waver and watch a short (and highly amusing) orientation video. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly by Will who is a credit to the organization as he was enthusiastic, professional, and very helpful during our session.
Each person is assigned their own pod, and the gear consists of two controllers that you hold in your hands in order to interact with the simulation, a headset that contains the screen, and a set of earphones for sound. The gear isn’t too clunky, but it felt a bit weird to be tethered to the pod via the headset and by the end of the hour the headset was very heavy and was compressing my neck. It didn’t take long to get set-up.
My first game selection was an escape room called Escape the Bunker. I’ve never done an escape room in person, but the virtual version was pretty cool. I was able to open a combination locker (this took multiple attempts) and a lock using a key. It was neat to open lockers and a fridge and explore the room. I got stuck when my propane tank went missing from the environment (I was going to make it explode using some beer and a lighter) and decided to switch games. Next up was a first person shooter called Space Pirate Trainer which was lots of fun! Multiple guns could be selected, or you could use a shield and a really cool lasso to pull in the targets. Three of us then did 9-holes of mini-golf in Cloudlands using a local multi-player option. It wasn’t our cup of tea, but would be great for people who aren’t into fast paced action games. I then went a few rounds on Light Blade which is for those of you who have ever wanted to be a Jedi or Sith. It’s basically Luke doing lightsabre training on the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars. Tonnes of fun! My last activity was essentially like being in the ocean. There was a simulation featuring a whale encounter, a coral reef, and the deep sea; all of which were quite relaxing and well done.
All 4 of us had a great time and really enjoyed the experience. While happy that we were able to use coupons to reduce the cost, I believe that this activity is well worth the $25/person cost, especially if this would be your first visit. If you are looking for something cool and fun to do in Waterloo with friends or family be sure to check out this neat option!