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I went virtual reality gaming in Woking with my niece and nephew and they loved it – David Bradshaw

I went virtual reality gaming in Woking with my niece and nephew and they loved it - David Bradshaw

The idea of ​​virtual reality games is not new. As a kid accustomed to the two-dimensional adventures of Italian plumbers and supersonic hedgehogs, I remember seeing features on TV where I donned big, high-rise helmets and waved my arms as the presenter proclaimed wildly that we were seeing the beginning of a glorious future.

Three decades later, it still hasn’t taken off. Yes, you can now grab a VR headset for your PlayStation and accidentally smash into your living room while you’re walking around trying to shoot bad guys — but in truth, most gamers are still playing the old-fashioned way, staring at the TV with a two-handed controller .

With that in mind, I was a bit skeptical when I heard that a new “immersive gaming center” was coming to Woking this month, but having not tried VR myself, I tried to approach it with an open mind. Fully aware that I am now a grumpy old man who hates anything more complicated than Tetris, I also took my 10-year-old niece and seven-year-old nephew in for a more youthful perspective.

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The game center is located on Victoria Place, in the food court in the area that used to be called the Peacock. Run by VR Animo Gaming, she definitely feels like a part of it – dance music pumps from a futuristic-looking square platform as you approach the area, with helmets hanging from ropes at each of the four corners, and two flat-screen TVs allowing viewers to see what’s going on under the helmets .

The staff were very helpful, and my sister-in-law Becky (who also came with us) was particularly impressed with how much they took care of safety, making sure that even young children were comfortable in what can be an overwhelming environment.

There are currently dozens of games on offer at the center, some suitable for children over six while others are recommended for those over 12 – either because they are more complex or, in one case, because they involve blasting zombies into oblivion. As much as I actually think my niece and nephew would have thoroughly enjoyed this, their mom was with us so I decided to pretend I was a responsible uncle and settled on shows for a little tamer.

We started with “Groove Guardians”, where you find yourself standing on a luminous platform in outer space hitting asteroids flying towards you to the beat of an energetic soundtrack. “Show me what you’ve got!” The words shrieked, as my mind tried to process the dream of the narcotic fever it was now having. Within five minutes, I quickly learned that “what I have” is a poor sense of rhythm and very poor cardiovascular health.

Fortunately, the kids seemed to come to grips with it more easily, and they immediately wanted to try another. While I regained my breath, my mother took my place and together they played Cold Clash, which involved flying across a frozen lake and collecting coins while shooting snowballs at each other from a cannon. I’m sure it was more than my brain could handle, but they seem to have had a whale at one point.

After we finished and took the kids to the McDonald’s next door to buy the milkshake, I asked them what they thought of the whole experience. My nephew gave it a seven out of 10, discounted a few points because he had some trouble keeping the helmet on his little head and said it rubbed his nose a lot, but other than that he liked it.

My niece gave it an odd 9,776 out of 10, basically enjoying every moment – and both adults agreed. Especially on a day when the weather wasn’t playing ball, we had an unforgettable indoor adventure, and the price was reasonable too.

Animo charges £10 for a five-minute game, but that gives you the entire playing area at that time. In other words, if you have a group of four, the cost is just £2.50 per group. Some teens and adults who were playing seem to have paired up with other groups to split the cost and make new friends in the process. You can book online but they also accept follow up.

The center will be in Woking until early July, and is open from 11am each day until Victoria Place closes all day. That would be a great Easter break or a half-lived activity in May – so cool, in fact, I then found myself wondering unexpectedly if the promised future of virtual reality might finally be about to arrive…

The resort has reopened at Chessington World of Adventures



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