When we were invited to visit the Virtual Reality Centre, VR-Here in Liverpool free of charge in return for sharing our experience with you I knew Ben would love it.
As regular readers will know Ben is 13 and an avid console gamer. If we let him he would spend all day every day on computer games! We have never been to a VR centre so couldn’t wait to try it out!
VR-Here, First Impressions
When we arrived at VR-Here (31 Paul Street, Liverpool, L3 6DX) my initial thoughts were that it was a row of workshop-type buildings and luckily the sign told us we were in the correct place.
It did not look big from the outside or particularly fancy but as soon as we got inside it was obvious this wasn’t necessary and a basic outside did not mean a basic inside! Ben was amazed and so excited to get started.
We were the only people there and Bryan, the manager showed us how everything worked and Ben set about having a go. I even had a try too but more about that later!
We actually chose to also go back the following day and I met another member of staff, Matt, and other customers were there too. It was nice to see how both staff interacted with people and see different customers’ experiences.
There are 4 booths currently however they are soon expanding to have 8! All are around 10ft square and have a slightly padded floor. The whole area is very dark but this just adds to the atmosphere!
There is some seating for parents or friends who wish to watch and when the centre expands soon there will be an even better seating area.
What is VR?
VR is virtual reality gaming, though actually can be more than just gaming and fun for everyone. You wear a headset that covers your eyes and hold two controllers.
Alongside the booths with the headsets, there are also two ride-on-type machines. These do cost extra, however. They give you the experience of riding a bike or car, a little like Mariokart however much more realistic as of course, you feel like you are actually riding them and they move appropriately.
Alongside games, there are programs such as Google maps where you can search and see an area as if you are there. If you are a nature lover you can be in the ocean and have sharks, stingrays etc swimming around you.
The main feature of VR though is the gaming aspect. With VR you literally feel as though you are in the game.
What did we try out?
Ben tried out a number of games including Job Simulator which is great for all ages. If you are more interested in music-making games there are some that I witnessed being played by another visitor but Ben did not try these.
Ben, however, loved a paintballing game that he actually got to play with Bryan the manager. It was amazing to see how two or more people could go together and all go in different booths but play together. The video at the end of this post shows Ben enjoying that.
I tried out one with fish and sea creatures swimming around me which was amazing. Of course, however, you are not wet so it is easy to remember you are in a virtual reality centre. I also tried a game called Richie’s Plank. You can see a video of it here on Youtube when famous Youtuber DanTDM tried it. The reality is unreal and despite knowing I was on the floor it was so scary walking on the plank!
You can see all the games and experiences available at VR-Here in Liverpool on their website here. They can set it up so a child can only access age-appropriate games too so don’t let that worry you.
Who can enjoy VR Here?
The centre is aimed at anyone over the age of around 8 years old. There is a lot of expensive equipment as I am sure you can imagine so not ideal for younger kids to be running around.
Adults can enjoy it just as much as children so don’t think this is just for kids as it really isn’t. I am not a gaming fan but even I loved it!
The size of the booths makes them even perfect for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility as there is no reason you could not do most of the activities sitting down.
The centre does not at present have accessible toilets though this may change in the future with all the changes of the expansion.
As you know Ben has autism, I was impressed how both members of staff we met spoke to him and ensured he understood the instructions.
I also saw Matt with young children who arrived while we were there and he was extremely patient in explaining things to them and helping them to find suitable games for their age/ability.
How much is VR-Here, Liverpool?
A session in one of the booths is £10 for half an hour or £20 for an hour per person. The ride-on experiences are £5 a turn.
The centre can accommodate small group parties (obviously when they expand that will be easier). It would be perfect for a stag do with a difference I think.
Other useful information
I would definitely recommend booking in advance as they can get very busy. This can easily be done online with payment either online or on arrival.
Payment can be made by card or cash and they also sell drinks and snacks for while you are watching/waiting.
The centre has parking directly outside and is also only a short walk from the city centre with bus access reasonable too.
There is a customer toilet and space to sit and wait if you, like me, are bringing someone but not taking part yourself.
A video of Ben having fun!
Our Overall Views
Just in case the comments above are not enough to give you an idea of our thoughts I have to say that our experience at VR-Here was amazing.
So much so that I paid for Ben to have extra time after our review slot had finished and then again the following day before we came home!
I would highly recommend it to anyone who is even a tiny bit curious because I can assure you that you will love it!
Do you or your children like gaming? Have you ever had a truly immersive virtual reality experience? Do comment below and let me know if you think it looks good! If you can get to Liverpool I highly recommend giving it a try!