How is virtual reality disrupting the entertainment industry?

This month will see the launch of the UK’s first virtual reality-powered game experience when Tick Tock Unlock opens the Hyper Reality Experience. But what does this mean for the entertainment industry as a whole?

Launching in Leeds, the experience is part video game, part virtual reality, part real-world, part theatrical production. Ali Khan, director at Tick Tock Unlock, explains: “The centres will allow players to experience a free-roaming, live action challenge which has to be physically completed but which takes place in the playground of a virtual world.

“Participants have to interact with objects which, in the real world are dummy props, but when viewing through VR headsets become, say, an elevator door, a laser gun or a fuel cell. Players might feel the heat from a virtual fire or the draft from a mineshaft so that it will be difficult to distinguish reality from virtual reality.”

We spoke to Tick Tock Unlock founder, Samrien Hussain, to find out more about how VR is changing the face of the entertainment industry.

“It’s an incredibly exciting, creative and imaginative industry to be a part of,” Hussain says. “In fact, imagination is key – you have to have innovative ideas and keep pushing the boundaries of technology. It’s also an industry that’s rapidly growing. In the next 10 years or so, VR is going to be a big part of people’s lives, and we’re keen to be at the forefront of that growth.”

The use of virtual reality is taking gaming to “a whole other level”, Hussain says. “It’s much more immersive and active. It really has that ‘wow’ factor and is something that everyone wants to experience, regardless of age, gender or even whether you’re a computer game fan or not.

“It has that global appeal and it’s easy to see why. It offers a completely immersive form of escapism, transporting the user into a completely different world without the need for them to step out of their front door. Who wouldn’t want to experience that?”

And the virtual reality industry is changing rapidly – “the possibilities are endless”. Hussain says that one of the most important opportunities is enabling people to experience something new, “something that they otherwise might not be able to”.

But, he says, behind the scenes there are many more exciting concepts being worked on. “The next step would be to further develop the VR headsets so that they’re lighter and less noticeable. I recently read about a start-up that’s looking into augmented contact lenses, and while it’ll be some time before that happens, that’s certainly the direction I see this technology going in.”

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