How a VR startup meant for the living room found new life in arcades

by Phillip Tracy | JANUARY 24, 2018

A woman wearing an elegant red dress steps onto the stage in the center of the arena. She takes out cue cards and says a few words into the microphone, prompting four men in military-ready outfits—tight black shirts, green cargo shorts, and aviator sunglasses—to emerge and line up on beside her. They’re holding automatic rifles. Suddenly, they turn and march toward large platforms that look like teleportation machines from the future.

Roughly 11 million viewers are watching around the world on smartphones and laptops, anxious to see what happens next. You can feel the tension building.

Within minutes, the men will be battling in a virtual reality world, venturing through a shipyard and gunning down enemies. But first, they have to strap in: Two thick bands lock them into position on an omni-directional treadmill, which transports their physical movements into the VR world.

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