On with the game: Players are given a finite space to move around. Pix by Osman Adnan
Suit up: An EXA Global staff helping a player with the VR gear. Pix by Osman Adnan
We want to have something that mums, dads, daughters and sons can enjoy as a group or individually - Richard Lee

HAVE you ever wished that you could live life just like in a video game?

Instead of going through life the usual way, you get to live and feel what it’s like to be a hero, saving the world from a crisis, or just do things that you normally wouldn’t be able to in real life.

That’s possible now, thanks to a concept that has been widely talked about as of late, Hyper Reality Entertainment.

WHAT IS IT?
Simply put, Hyper Reality Entertainment is a virtual reality (VR) concept by EXA Global but marketed differently from VR.

Currently, the VR experience available to consumers will have them play at a small area in front of their TV sets and bounded by wires.

Hyper Reality Entertainment can be considered as the next-level VR experience as it will have none of those issues, and it will include real-life sensations such as temperature to add a depth of realism.

You can play VR games alone or with friends in a big space that will allow you to interact with the game as you would in real life.

This includes walking, crouching, shooting and anything allowed by the game.


Here’s how: EXA Global’s CEO Richard Lee briefing the players on Dimension 12. Pix by Osman Adnan


SUIT UP!
As an avid gamer myself, I’m very aware of the limitations surrounding VR. So when I heard of a VR system that enables the user to move around freely without wires and have no latency issues, I was sceptical.

VR requires powerful hardware and if there is a wireless solution to transfer data, there will definitely be latency issues, if not data loss.

After the initial briefing session where we were told about Dimension 12, we were given backpacks, a VR headset and a headset to listen to audio in-game as well as communicate with our teammates.

The backpack itself is a PC with enough strength to run VR applications, so all it needed was to connect the necessary peripherals to that backpack and another PC to act as a command centre to ensure that the game will run as intended.

But that’s not all of what makes this Hyper Reality Entertainment feel all too real.

The guns that we use in the game are toy guns in real life with a little bit of weight on it and have recoil. To be precise, the recoil is very light but the sound adds some realism.


Ready for action: Players all set for hyper-reality action. Pix by Osman Adnan


THE EXPERIENCE
In our experience with Hyper Reality Entertainment, our teams of four people were “sent” to Dimension 12 to subdue hostile aliens.

There was a finite space where we were allowed to move around. With four people playing it simultaneously, it can feel a bit cramped.

This is especially true when the in-game characters’ body movements can only be tracked by the guns and distance moved, so other players may actually be closer in proximity to you than they seem to appear in VR.

At the beginning, we were told to pick up an ammo box and walk towards a teleportation portal.

Afterwards, we get tossed into battle via stages on a platform, where we need to clear out the aliens before they take us down.

As this is VR, you actually need to look around at a 360-degree angle to ensure that every single enemy has been taken down.

This will happen a few times until we get to the boss battle, where we need to fight a giant alien.

The interesting part here is that the strategy isn’t to blindly unload a barrage of bullets on the enemy boss but rather focus on the target reticule that’s pointing towards its weaknesses.

Furthermore, you can dodge the boss attacks by crouching in real life or moving to a different position.

The latter solution can cause problems as once again, the area that we are allowed to move around is a bit cramped. The key here is communication with other players.

Hopefully, your teammates aren’t too excited to the point where they’d ignore what you’re saying. After the boss is taken down, you will then teleport back to where you started and the game will end.


CONCLUSION
EXA Global’s Hyper Reality experience is unlike any VR game that I’ve ever experienced.

While you will still be bound to a specific area, it’s much bigger than what you’d usually have with the PlayStation VR or HTC Vive.

EXA Global plans to expand the play area for its Hyper Reality experience in the near future which will allow players more mobility.

I knew what I was seeing wasn’t real but there were times when the aliens would attack me by jumping right on my face and I’d get a mini heart attack.

That’s know how easily immersed you can get in the game. Despite not moving around too much, I was surprised by how my arms and legs quivered after the game.

It was a mix of excitement and physical fatigue.

Overall, I’d give EXA Global’s Hyper Reality experience an 8 out of 10. There’s definitely room for improvement but this is arguably the most solid experience available today.



IMMERSIVE GOAL
EXA Global’s CEO Richard Lee sheds more light on Hyper Reality Entertainment

How does hyper reality entertainment work?
As it is VR at its core, you will still need your standard equipment: the computer, VR headsets, headphones and a controller.

But even with the equipment, the important part here is the content. We have a team that develops the content and makes full use of the equipment we have, with the goal of providing people with the most immersive and life-like VR experience possible.

What makes hyper reality entertainment different from activities such as paintball or laser tag?
The difference is that Hyper Reality Entertainment is set in the virtual realm and therefore there’s more flexibility in what you can experience.

You can practically be anything you want in VR. We are currently developing “armour” that will allow players to detect when they have been damaged in order to add that extra bit of realism. If you think VR isn’t physically demanding, wait until you try the experience we’re providing.

Who is hyper reality entertainment targeting?
We want it to be something everyone can enjoy but at the same time, we are targeting multiple groups.

The first being gamers as this would appeal to them the most. Then we have families. As we are producing a variety of VR content, we want to have something that mums, dads, daughters, and sons can enjoy as a group or individually.

Can you share a bit about EXA Global’s hyper reality entertainment centres in Malaysia?
This outlet here in Setiawalk, Puchong has only opened for about a month but we have spent years planning and developing to make this work.

So far, the reception has been quite positive. There’s usually a lot of people coming, our customers are usually satisfied, and MDeC (Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation) has helped expose us to the masses.

What are EXA Global’s future plans?
We are planning to open at least four to six outlets globally by the end of the year. As far as our current outlet in Setiawalk is concerned, we are currently at Stage 1. We are in the midst of improving it and going to the next stage — adding stronger hardware, creating more content, and trying to take things one step further in terms of realism.

At the moment, we’re trying to get as many people to try it out so we are doing a buy one-free one promotion where RM65 will be good enough for two people.

We are currently working on a membership programme where our customers will get additional benefits and discounts.

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