MeetspaceVR Gaming Arena Review

As a home computer gamer of the 1980s, i’ve seen a lot of change over the years, i was an avid C64 gamer and wasted way too many hours playing Kokotoni Wilf, Hunchback and Ghostbusters. By the time I had invtested in an X-Box my love affair with computer games was pretty much over, i owned one for 6 months and then got bored and sold it for half the price I paid.

I always said to myself, unless it’s almost real life, I’m not investing any more of my precious time on computer games.. well, a recent trip to Meetspace VR has really opened my eyes to a new culture of computer gaming. Whilst many will already have experienced the phenomena of Virtual Reality, i think it’s fair to say most people’s experience of it will be minimal.

With regards to VR, until my trip to Meetspace, I had only been to an exhibition at the Water Hall Gallery which recreated the old King Edwards school on New Street that was demolished many years ago. That, i thought was pretty incredible.

So, my invite to Meetspace was something I was interested in seeing, but still kind of, seen it all before attitude. How wrong i was…

Parking is easy, beneath what most people would know as the NIA or Barclaycard Arena, now called Utilita Arena Birmingham, which is exactly where Meetspace VR is located. As you approach the doors, it feels like being in an underground bunker, with Zombie murals on the concrete pillars.

Inside is vast, two rooms, one with the more family friendly games, and then the larger arena with inflatable padded walls – a former basketball court.

The staff are friendly and take the whole experience seriously, at first I thought it seemed a bit over the top as, afterall, it’s just computer games right? Well, i really wasn’t prepared for what was to come.

I took enjoyment watching my companion first play a game called Engineerium:

Rosie wanted something gentle and easy, it was most amusing watching as she roamed around the arena with her headset on, completely immersed and was obviously blown away by the reality of it all, in fact a few occasions the headset was removed as it was all a bit much, just to make sure the real world still exitsted outside ha! Rosie described it as an exotic paradise and similar to going on holiday, strange?!

..the sense of fear, you litereally feel fight or flight for a few seconds and your heart races..

Next it was my turn, and I was told to prepare myself for something which has resulted in some people falling over, or freaking out, it al started to feel a bit serious as my backpack was fitted, headphones added, visor, and pump action firearm placed in my hands. This was not for the faint hearted.

A games master sits in the corner watching the play from their screen, whilst keeping an eye on everyone real time. We were playing Zombie Survival:

As you step into the virtual warehouse, it is fascinating to be able to look and move around and see the other players, however, you don’t have long before the games master is telling you to look out behind you for the first wave of zombies. Oh my days, it was incredible, the quality of graphics, the sense of fear, you litereally feel fight or flight for a few seconds and your heart races, well, mine did! And it just gets better, and better and more extreme and intense, that by the end of it, my arm ached from pumping the gun, and as I took off the visor, the real world didn’t feel so real anymore, and that feeling stayed with me all the way home. Brilliant! This is what I had been waiting for in the evolution of gaming, something to actually get your heart pumping, nothing is left to the imagination, it is all there before you, and feels way too real at times.

We played another game which was more friendly, kind of fighting fantasy and a bit more cartoony but equally as addictive and more like an arcade game, which I could have played longer.

There are so many differet games but one I would like to try another time is the escape rooms.

MeetspaceVR (featuring Zero Latency Free Roma) is a video game entertainment centre that brings the best of breed virtual reality experiences under one roof and you have to give it to these guys, they take this stuff seriously.

Take your friends, colleagues and family inside the game, your body is the controller and your brain believes it’s real. Get ready to blow your mind! This is not your usual VR.

There is something for all ages and abilities, however, the more advanced games are not for the faint hearted, from solo experiences to couples, to one-on-one and small groups fighting for survival, expect real life back packs, pump action gaming weapons, virtual reality visors, headphones and a games master to help you navigate virtual reality worlds.

And if you just want to sit back and enjoy a beer whilst watching your mates, they have a drinks licence too, just a wicked experience and one which I want to repeat with mates and family. Get involved, it takes a lot to capture my attention, but this genuinely left its mark.

Review by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.