Ster-Kinekor and VRV’s Virtual Reality experience centers are a MUST for you to try
Just the right kind of fun we need as the country opens up again
Virtual Reality has always been one of the most niche tech spaces around. It’s conceptually amazing, allowing users to immerse themselves (literally) in a digital world, yet it’s adoption has been far slower than anyone involved with it had anticipated due to a number of issues, especially with the first round of VR products released a few years ago. However with VR headsets getting a lot better, and cheaper as well, it’s become clear that even in Zim there’s space for people to try out this form of tech, and Ster-Kinekor Zimbabwe and Virtual Reality Village seem geared to show them that.
Ster-Kinekor recently invited us to their Joina City cinema to show off their new virtual reality experience centers. These are a new activity to try out at their cinemas, where you get to try out virtual reality games and experiences for USD $3 or equivalent. The centers are a partnership with the aforementioned Virtual Reality Village(VRV) Zimbabwe, a fairly new player in the country aiming to let everyone experience and get into VR. The partnership itself makes sense, allowing VRV to gain a lot of customers at places people already go to have fun in cinemas, while SK benefits from having more experiences beyond movies and to cater to a wider audience. This wouldn’t be the first time SK did this either. At many times they’ve had gaming setups for consoles or arcade machines. But none of those are quite like VR however, as while gaming will likely be the most popular experience most people will opt for, the scope of what you can do with the VR headsets is much greater, including VR tours of places or experiences such as rollercoaster rides.
The setup at the experience centers is currently using are Oculus Quest headsets, originally released in 2019. Along with the newer Quest 2’s they offer a perfect sweet spot between the more powerful, but constraining Oculus Rift headsets which require a powerful PC to be tethered to , and the more limited mobile-only headsets such as Samsung’s Gear VR or Google Daydream kits.
The best part about them however, is that now due to a well developed and built-out ecosystem for these devices, you’ll get a pretty large slew of experiences to try out right from the jump. According to VR experience manager Tafadzwa Madhende, the selection and capability of these devices will increase as more games and experiences become available, meaning you could probably go and try out a game or two today, and come back a month or so later to find more experiences to try out.
We personally dived into Beat Saber(kind of a hit among VR fans) , Creed: Rise to Glory and Pistol Whip, along with some specific VR experiences such as a rollercoaster ride and virtual jungle. How each experience feels varies, and that’s the point. Creed for example is more straight forward, requiring mainly use of the Oculus controllers and your fists, essentially meaning it’s a simple punching exercise based on your blocking and intensity of your punches. Pistol Whip on the other hand required precise dodging and aiming, essentially turning you into John Wick once you mastered the game’s movements.
Meanwhile the rollercoaster or jungle experiences where less about your movement and took you on a ride, often making you react through sheer awe of what surrounds you or shock and even fear when some very crazy moments (which I won’t spoil), happen. If you’ve never had a VR experience before, it’s likely to blow you away, and even if you have had it, you’re likely to enjoy every single bit of how crisp and fluent the animations on these experiences are.