Local Business Spotlight: Mass VR
Written by Colleen Holden on December 8, 2022
NORMAL, Ill. – In a town surrounded by corn and college students, Mass VR provides a portal to not only first-person interactive gaming, but a new wave of technology.
From Mario Bros. to Metroid, gaming has been a household staple throughout the 2000s, but in the last few years a whole new perspective of gaming has surfaced that revolutionized the way gaming is seen all together.
Virtual reality (VR) is the newest edition to the gaming experience but despite the household release of the Oculus VR console, it’s still the hidden gem of the gaming world. This rarity is what makes Mass VR such an unique addition to the Bloomington-Normal area. Not only does Mass VR provide a space built specifically for the VR experience but offers a variety of potential VR options giving everyone something to enjoy.
Joe McDonnell, the manager of Mass VR, is very passionate about the world of VR and it’s place in and out of the gaming industry, giving an outside perspective to what goes on inside the VR headset.
“It’s like a dream, you know it’s not real but you feel so immersed in it that it felt real despite knowledge it’s not,” said McDonnell.
Mass VR houses a 750-foot gaming arena, several roller coaster simulators of varying intensity, an interactive sports simulator, and several classic arcade machines, leaving an option for all patrons. Being the only place dedicated to VR play in a 50-mile radius, the customer basis is much wider than the confines of the Bloomington-Normal area, acting as almost a tourist attraction to the community.
“People travel here from more than an hour away to get the full experience, there’s a VR place in Joliet, but they don’t have the arena. We’re really one of a kind,” said McDonnell.
Contrary to popular belief the secret hit to Mass VR is actually not in the games, but in it’s escape rooms. The gaming arena and roller coaster simulators are the most novel, but with the familiarity of escape rooms they become the perfect introduction into the VR experience.
“The arena is what we’re known for, it’s the standard free roam experience with a few different games that up to eight people can play together, or really against one another,” said McDonnell. “Escape rooms are the surprising hit though, people come in frequently with their friends and family opting for the escape room over the other options.”
Despite getting it’s start in gaming the potential of VR is limitless, and relatively untapped once it finds it’s footing. With such advanced technology already in existence, it’s not a reach to see it expanding to other industries.
“I think VR can be a part of everything we do, but not in it’s current state,” said McDonnell. “The technology needs to expand past the heavy backpack and helmet sized headband, but it’s in our realm of possibilities,