Kill zombies at Ctrl V, the new virtual reality arcade, in Toronto

Ctrl V -

Source: Metroland Media –

The only familiarity I had with virtual reality was watching Eugene ‘The Plague’ Belford frantically battle something viewers couldn’t see in the 1995 film Hackers.

So when I received word a new virtual reality arcade just opened in North York, I jumped at the chance to find out why Belford was so animated.

I arrived at Ctrl V, located at the northeast corner of Chesswood and Champagne drives, with a mixture of excitement and slight nervousness. Would I be able to figure out how to use the controllers properly? Would I crash into a wall? Would I throw up from motion sickness?

I was greeted by franchise owner Gene Kayal and employee Mark Lovatt, who took myself and photographer Dan Pearce on a tour of the 17-station, 5,000-square-foot site, which has been slowly growing in popularity since opening Jan. 2, Kayal told us, adding they’ve held birthday parties and bar mitzvah celebrations.

A Waterloo-based company, which opened in 2016, Ctrl V has locations in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and New Jersey, but this was the first Toronto site. Fifteen games are currently offered at the Chesswood Drive location, with five games per month to be added to the list, Kayal said.

According to Ctrl V’s website, virtual reality “can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact in that world.”

And boy, did I ever interact.

After watching a short mandatory instructional video, I stepped into one of the 10-by-10-foot stations in socked feet (no footwear allowed) and Lovatt helped me with the headset and two controllers. And in a flash, I was in 360 degrees of, well, virtual reality, shooting at droids flying through the sky in a game called Space Pirate Trainer.

After a few minutes of that fun, I was onto archery game QuiVr. Set in a snowy scene, I had to place one controller above my shoulder and behind my back, as if I was drawing an arrow, and put my other arm straight out, and fire at targets and creatures. Maybe it was because I was still getting the hang of the controllers and wasn’t moving fast enough, but I found there wasn’t enough action (watching a YouTube video a day later confirmed there was plenty of action. I wasn’t moving fast enough).

Onto the last game I tried, titled Arizona Sunshine. I had to collect ammo and shoot at zombies, and it was fun watching their heads explode. Photographer Dan Pearce joined me in the game from the station next to mine, and together we did our best to rid the world of those hideous creatures.

After playing for about 40 minutes, it was time to step back into reality and leave the virtual world behind. I didn’t crash into walls, I didn’t throw up, but I did leave with a better understanding of why gaming is so popular.

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