Sometimes what happens in Vegas is too awesome to stay there.
Let me explain. In the end of 2016, I proposed to my long-term girlfriend of six years. None of my friends thought I’d get married in my lifetime, so it was a big deal for everyone. In January 2018, a few months prior to the wedding, my friends and I went to Las Vegas for the bachelor party.
One of the events planned was a free-roam virtual reality experience where I could take on the zombie apocalypse with my friends. This was a new attraction in Vegas, open only three months prior to our visit. We didn’t know much about VR at the time, but we were all video gamers at heart and had held some pretty great Halo LAN parties in the past. We had a good feeling about the experience and were honestly just excited to shoot some zombies in the face.
The place was at a lounge called Level Up in the MGM Grand. We were asked to sign in at the front desk and every keystroke of the sign-in procedure built the anticipation. We heard the occasional scream coming from the room we were about to enter, and the hairs on our necks stood up. As we loaded the complimentary storage lockers with our personal items, preparing ourselves for the experience, an older couple came out of the room with wide smiles and locked arms. They had clearly enjoyed the experience.
Our turn to play! We entered the orientation room and it was even more impressive than we could have imagined. There were graphics on the wall depicting some of the game content to come. There was a television prompting us for the orientation, backpacks on the wall, and a rifle that looked like something out of an Aliens movie. The anticipation was killing us.
The massive game room was over 2,000 square feet. The “game master” took us to our starting points and loaded us into the environment. As the pixilation of the environment came to shape, we were blown away with the size of the virtual space, the graphics of the game, and the fact that we could see each other in the virtual world. We were INSIDE a video game about to play it in REAL LIFE!
The game initialized and we heard a message over our comms system: “It’s going to take us a while to get back to you, but we have choppers on the way. Hold out as long as you can, and we’ll come pick you up.” Suddenly, we were surrounded by zombies. We scrambled to find cover and ended up back to back and completely overwhelmed by the undead who were ready to eat our brains! When the chopper finally came back to pick us up after we successfully warded off our enemies, we realized we were completely drenched with sweat. Our arms and legs were burning from the workout, and we were all laughing at how exhausted we were from the experience. We took off our gear, still mesmerized by what had just happened.
This was something I never knew I needed in my life. I wanted to play again. It was at this moment that I looked over at my friends and said, “We need to bring this to Mishawaka, Indiana.” I got back up, went to the welcome desk and booked an extra hour of games for everyone at the bachelor party. This was the coolest thing any of us had ever done in Vegas.