The other day my friend Emma and I were walking down the street in Qionghai, which is a city on the eastern coast of Hainan island. We had to catch a train to head back to Haikou in a little while and had a just under an hour to burn before heading to the station.
As we were both wondering about what to do before catching the bus we passed by a random sign on the street that simply said “VR”. In most Chinese cities, a lot of the stores and restaurants are up sets of stairs that make it hard to figure out what’s up there so neither of us really knew what it was.
“Want to go check it out?” Emma asked while giving me a face that told me she was totally in.
“Hell yeah, let’s do it,” I said as we walked towards the weird set of stairs leading to who-knows-where.
At the top of the stairs was a small, single room with a sign next to its door that also just said “VR” in big, black letters. Inside was a guy wearing casual clothes and sandals as well as a serious looking VR setup surrounded by soundproofing.
After being surprised by the size of the place, the guy tried to make me feel better by offering a few free minutes of VR so I could see what it was like. I accepted and before I knew it I was underwater hanging out with all different types of sea creatures. Virtual reality was awesome and I wanted more.
Now that I was hooked I asked him for the craziest game I could play and he suggested one where I get attacked by random zombies. It had lots of shooting and as I figured it out and capped some of the living dead while his speakers blared I felt like I was really living it.
The VR was so immersive that there were moments when I was really scared and freaked out a little bit when a zombie popped up out of nowhere. I haven’t played with VR in a long time and was super impressed with how real it’s getting.
Next up, Emma gave it a shot and since she wasn’t really into the zombies and how crazy that game was, she went with a different game. The goal was to catch each colored blob as it came up to you in rhythm with music she selected.
It was almost like a workout as she moved her arms back and forth to the song that was blasting through the speakers behind her and looked really fun.
The guy seemed to really enjoy watching us play the games and this little business of his seemed like more of a hobby or passion project than something serious. While we were chatting he told us he owns a gaming company in Beijing and that his wife ran the salon that was across the hall from the room we were standing in.
They had moved to Hainan because the weather and pollution in Beijing is so bad. I can’t say that I blame them, Hainan is really starting to grow on me. 🌴 ☀️️
After we finished up chatting we grabbed our bags, hopped on the bus, and headed to the bus station. Playing those VR games was really incredible and I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.
For a few minutes I feel like I stepped into the future and I’m sure over the next few years his type of setup is going to be all over the place. It’s just too cool not to catch on – especially once the price drops to something more reasonable.