VR PARTY GAMES: BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER IN A NEW, OLD WAY

By CHRIS McGOWAN

VR board games are a relatively new subgenre of VR games that bring people together the old-fashioned way – with gatherings in one place in the real world. While multiplayer VR games and social VR platforms bring groups together, it’s usually in a virtual world where users tend to be home alone with their VR headsets. VR board games like Loco Dojo, late for work, keep talking and no one is blowing up and Acron: Attack of the squirrels! take a different approach.

“VR board games are usually played together in one room,” says Yacine Salmi, managing director of Munich-based Salmi Games. “One person under the headset, the others on gamepads on a PC/console or on their phones. They are usually meant to be enjoyed together in a setting and to encourage taking turns under the VR headset. One of the titles of the studio is Late for workin which a rampaging giant gorilla (the player in the helmet) takes on up to four human opponents (on PC).

“A VR board game emphasizes fun and hilarity first, competition second,” comments Sam Watts, director of immersive partnerships at Make Real, which publishes Loco Dojo and is based in Brighton, UK. The multiplayer title offers 16 humorous mini-games to play to win the favor of the “Great Sensei”. It aims to bring multiple VR headset users together in one room. “Loco Dojo was meant to be played together, [with] all having fun virtually but also physically present with each other, which is why it has been a big hit in location-based VR entertainment arcades.

Watts explains, “VR party games are fast to play, across multiple devices if available, with a focus on throughput and making sure as many people at the party as possible can play.” At the very least, there’s a great reason to be in the audience if you’re not playing. In contrast, “simple multiplayer games are more competitive and generally last longer per session.”

“The biggest distinction between VR party games and other VR multiplayer games is that you will likely only have one VR headset available in a party scenario. This means the game should be designed to involve multiple local players using a single headset,” comments Taraneh Dohmer, head of game studio operations and communications for Ottawa-based Steel Crate Games, which publishes Keep talking and nobody blows up. In the game, players – one with a VR headset and the other without any electronic devices – must work together to defuse a bomb.

Joseph K. Bennett