Proposal: Virtual Reality Cinema Game space
Both the practices of home video gaming and streaming come at the expense of the potential social experience of collectivity and community that the public spaces of the arcade and the cinema once provided. The unexpected social enjoyment of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers is an experience that defies the traditional demographic boundaries of life, and one that cannot be replicated in at home.
For this reason, it is necessary to develop a new typology that satisfies the immersive experience but does so in a public setting where individuals can encounter and share experiences with strangers. While such a typology will include the completely immersive experience of VR gaming, it can also provide communal experiences that mimic the surprise and delight of those games. These would consist of striking and emergent visual effects, achieved through both biomimicry and bioluminescent technology.
By designing a full experience that integrates VR for both movie cinema and immersive gaming this new architectural space will function as an entertainment hub. In order to expand the clientele of the cinema it is necessary to evolve the architectural environment to accommodate multiple purposes with similar ephemeral goals of immersion. Through the use of customized biological applications, illuminance will guide the user through this futuristic and modern design. Interactions would not be limited to games and cinematic applications; this new space would open the option for more socially cohesive activities such as casual hang outs or educational experiences. This new architectural space would integrate the senses of sight, touch, smell, and sound in a subtle cohesive way evoking mental inception, is it possible to produce smell in VR? This new typology would offer a complete XR experience, where virtual reality and augmented reality is combined with interactive reality.
This new typology is informed by, but exceeds, the precedent of existing VR centers. Imax opened seven such VR centers in movie theaters around the globe, each of which hosted a rotating selection of games, social experiences, and short narrative pieces. It set up a $50 million fund to develop the centers, partnering with Google to build a next-generation camera that would allow filmmakers to realize their next-generation VR dreams. Then it all disappeared, the whole project getting cancelled. The VR centers started to close, this past December. This has opened the market to smaller theatre chains now. Cinemark is taking advantage of this since IMAX backed out. Companies such as The Void, Dreamscape Immersive, and zero Latency then offered customers high-end, bespoke VR experiences that are unlike anything on the market featuring technologies such as backpacks and haptic vests lets individuals roam freely around a large space. Tracking devices on individual’s hands and feet make sure that players can see their own bodies, and everyone else’s bodies as well. Everything one sees in VR is mapped to the physical space, so if one reaches out their hand to touch a wall or grip a railing visible in VR, they will really touch it. Even wonderland that amplifies one’s sense of presence and the memories one comes away with. One does not do this individually. Players are on a team and see each other’s faces. It is very much a shared social experience.