AMUSEMENTS Viri VR
I’M STANDING ON top of a skyscraper eyeing a narrow wooden plank that juts out over a busy city street. I can feel the wind in my hair, and I hear the distant sounds of traffic below, as well as the wind rushing in my ears. My legs start to tremble. But this is for journalism, so I close my eyes and shuffle my feet forwards, one shaky step at a time. I open my eyes and look around, seeing birds wheeling at my height and the bustle of the city 30 storeys down. I know that I’m actually a couple of centimetres off the ground, and that nothing I am seeing is real. But it takes a lot of courage to step off and ‘fall’ back to earth.
We’re at Viri, a few hundred metres from Southern Cross Station. The 80-minute virtual reality experience starts with the virtual plank, followed by a much lower stakes archery game, where the goal is to defend your castle from an invading horde. Shooting flaming arrows at twodimensional cartoon figures is exhilarating – and surprisingly sore on the arms. After those two games it’s off to our private booths, where we each choose a game from the dozen or so on offer and start waving our arms around. Groups can share a booth and take turns on the games, or if Viri isn’t busy each player can have his or her own. I am particularly keen on Fruit Ninja – slicing through pineapples with virtual katana blades is so much more satisfying than swiping your finger across your phone. I also like the dancing game, where the object is to catch virtual musical notes and move in time to the beat. There are also zombie games and a bar fight game, though I end up knocked on my virtual arse quite quickly. Some games are for multiple players, and two of us team up to fight hostile aliens in a barren landscape. Viri offers water and comfortable couches – all that punching and slicing is tiring, and sometimes your eyes need a break from all the screen action.