VR vs ER: What is a Virtual Reality Experience?

Fun

October 2018

Red Door is at the cutting edge of all escape room entertainment. We keep things fresh. So what’s new?

Two words: virtual reality.

The word “virtual” often carries some negative connotations in the space of building interpersonal skills. We often view technology as a barrier to true relationships. People go out with friends but stare at their phones the entire time instead of having a real conversation. Social gatherings transform into a mere stage to set up the perfect social media post. Rest assured, Red Door would never allow anything to deter us from our mission to deepen relationships through creative entertainment; and that’s exactly what a virtual reality experience will do.

VR demonstrates that you can connect technology with the purpose of deepening relationships. In some ways, VR experiences accomplish our mission similar to the way our existing escape rooms do. But it also takes a very unique approach. Let’s take a look at some key differences and similarities between virtual reality and escape rooms.

Differences:

Simulated Setting vs Real-Life Setting

Maybe the most apparent difference between VR and ER is the setting. Red Door shows that lots of thought and time go into creating the sets of our episodes. Designers and contractors develop the most realistic environments that help suspend your disbelief. With tangible props, how can it get more real than that? How can a virtual setting compare? You have to try it to believe how real it feels.

In one set of my first VR experience, I stood on a tiny platform and it terrified me that I might fall off. A virtual cliff. Into a virtual abyss. Looking back, it seems silly. My shuffling feet probably looked silly too. The point is that a simulated setting can appear just as real as a live setting. There’s great depth of detail in the design and there seem to be no limitations to what can appear around you. In fact, just one episode can transport you to dozens of places across the universe and multiple periods across the timeline!

Virtual Interaction vs Face-to-Face Interaction

Our escape rooms ask you to leave your cell phones behind as you enter into the story. This encourages you and other players to communicate in person and in the moment. Escape rooms can actually really help you learn how to communicate more clearly and effectively. In a virtual reality experience, you’ll still communicate, and we’ll talk about that later, but it’ll be by your headsets. Yes, you won’t actually be able to see the other players. See those goggles in the header image? You’ll listen to your teammates through that. Although you can’t see other players as they normally appear, you’ll get to interact with their virtual avatars! It’s pretty cool actually. You can still hand them virtual treasures and toss them virtual clues. Or if you’re a bit of a prankster you can throw other virtual objects at them when they’re not looking. Hey, no one gets hurt, so no one gets in trouble.

Similarities:

Immersion

We already know how fully immersive escape rooms are with their intricate storylines and very real environments. Virtual realities are just as immersive. With noise-canceling headsets and peripheral-blocking goggles, you really have no choice but to watch the virtual scene displayed in front of your eyes. Just like escape rooms, a VR episode is built around an interesting plot and, with this medium, it really is like stepping into a movie. Also just like escape rooms, VR engages as many of your senses as possible. Amazing surround sound pours out of your headset and startling haptics shake the remotes in your hands. I dare you to not feel anxious coming towards the edge of that virtual cliff.

Teamwork

Ah, our favorite word! Despite the usual connotations of isolation that revolve around virtual technology, there really is no way to win in a virtual reality experience without true teamwork. Teamwork and communication are just as necessary in a virtual setting as they are in escape rooms. My first VR experience included me, my dad, and two of my uncles. We all were new to this. But while I got the hang of the tech pretty quickly, my dad and uncle had been typing their names into the virtual computer for five minutes. This experience really tested each of us because we were all learning how to navigate and maneuver the controls. But it really tested how well we communicated with each other. When one of us discovered something or realized how to do something, it took a bit of time to explain it to the others. But in the end, we finished and I think we did pretty well. Most importantly, we finished before my sister, mom, and aunts. But there’s no way we could have even gotten past the first room (just typing in our names) without great teamwork.

Last but certainly not least: joy. Just like an escape room, the joy in the experience comes from being in the virtual environment with the people you are there with. Most times without realizing it, you are growing closer to your family, friends, or co-workers when you participate in an escape room. The same happens in a VR experience. All it takes is 60 minutes and you can deepen your relationship with at least one person. We hope that you get a chance to experience this with us at Red Door very soon! 

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