With virtual reality becoming a popular source of entertainment, Toronto now has its own VR lounge. The House of VR, located in Queen West, is a lounge and event space set to be a retreat for techies in the city ready to experience the world of VR. Its licensed content has something for everyone, including popular VR games as well as VR experiences in art and design, tourism, entertainment, education, meditation, kids-focused content and live sports.
Sharing his views on the House of VR, owner and serial entrepreneur Jonah Brotman said, “We thought, ‘Let’s make a visually stunning space where the general public will want to hang out, have a beer, and try this new tech.” To help do that, Stephanie Payne, the creative director for House of VR, was tasked with creating an inviting and bright aesthetic space, located in the historic Burroughes building, at 639 Queen St. W. This included enlisting local artists for murals and art installations to create Instagram-worthy pieces. Elaborating on that, Payne said, “From the moment people walk in, they’re transported into a different world that is futuristic, fun and playful. It was really important for us to make an artistic and inspiring space. Other (VR) lounges aren’t very inviting, and we really wanted to move away from that.” The owners have stood true to their word of making the place artistic, to an extent that even the bathroom walls can be considered art pieces.
The main floor contains House of VR’s most exciting technology – five “mixed-reality” units that film VR users against a green screen, so that rather than seeing a first-person view of what the player is seeing on the screen next to them, anyone watching the player gets to see them inside the game. While, the venue’s second floor boasts eight virtual reality units, each of them accompanied by a couch, television screen where friends can watch whatever the main viewer is experiencing, and a 360-degree pod seat ideal for visitors interested in renting a Samsung Gear VR.
The owners hope that the House of VR will become a tech hub for a community that’s interested in VR technology and its evolution beyond gaming. We also hope for the same because as Brotman says, “VR is not an Xbox; it’s not a gaming system. It’s much more.”