Ctrl V Virtual Reality - An Eyeroll Free Teenage Birthday Party (and a coupon code for Guelph!)

By Ed

This year for our duaghter's 14th birthday, she really wanted to take everyone to the Guelph CTRL-V Virtual Reality Arcade. She has been a couple times, but her friends have never been at all. In fact, we can't get over how many local people we talk to who haven't checked out this awesome place.

So in exchange for this post the folks at CTRL-V Guelph were generous enough to let us bring a bunch of kids (ages 10-14... and, well, Robin and I too) in for an hour of Virtual Reality gaming and party awesomeness.

And now we're here to tell you what to expect from CTRL-V Virtual Reality and why you need to plan your next party there (kid, teen or grown-up).

But first, indulge me.

Virtual Reality - what to expect.

I'm standing on a cliff with a platform built into it. Below and to my left, I look and see the gates to my fort. They are locked and protecting the main castle which I'm charged with defending.  All of this sits in the middle of a valley with steep sides.  And up the middle charge of this valley charge a horde of attackers...

I reach over my shoulder and an arrow is in my hand. I nock it in my bow, squeeze and draw the string back. I aim at the nearest attacker and release.  My first shot goes wide.  He (it?) is getting closer. I load another, aim and fire.  This one wings him - he is moving slower now, but still moving. Finally, as he (and his axe) nears the gate, I relax, draw a bead on him and fire.

This arrow is true and I've cleared the first attacker.

I smile briefly, then look back up the valley, draw another arrow and grimly prepare to face the next one.

The whole time I'm playing QuiVr I can see the Helm's Deep scene from Lord of the Rings in my mind's eye. When the QuiVr baddies get close to the gate, I very nearly hear Aragorn yell, "Bring Him Down!". And, And, And...I'm gushing aren't I?

And wait, I was trying to tell you about a cool teenager birthday idea wasn't I?

OK, I'll get back on track for a bit.

Wall to wall, state of the art VR booths great you when you arrive at CTRL V

Why CTRL-V Virtual Reality?

  • It's great for everyone!  
Our party group included an age range from 10-43, male and female, gamers and non-gamers.  All of us played the whole time and raved about it after. Try to find a movie or some other pastime that makes that many different people happy.

  • It is a great value experience. 
You know our blog and our love of great value-for-your-dollar activities. The cheapest at-home VR experience via game console will run you over $1000.  If you tried to copy the hardware CTRL-V Guelph has, that would run you more than twice that.  But visiting the arcade for an hour? $25. Deal!

  • It is both social and solo. 
Gaming has a reputation for being a somewhat individual pursuit. But CTRL-V gets you together in a room and provides games that work for people on their own, and for those who want to team up and play/explore together.  And if you want to hang back in 'Real Reality' and just watch, every booth has a monitor so others in your party can check out what the players see.  Everyone is involved and everyone has fun.

  • The Staff is fantastic.  
Every staff member we've encountered at CTRL-V Guelph genuinely has wanted to give us the best VR experience possible. There are so many rookie mistakes that everyone makes and they are awesome about helping you avoid them or getting you out of them.

We had one person at our party who didn't want to try VR because she was afraid. Once the staff figured out she was really just worried about falling over, they got her a swivel chair and allowed her to play seated. That same kid then raved about the experience after.

Our party included 1 hour of Virtual Reality and use of the Party Room after.  Much of the party room time was spent with the kids just talking about all the fun they had - and then we played some table games together. The party room has a table with chairs that easily accommodated all ten of us, plus a microwave and refrigerator.  The room can easily accommodate your cake and gift opening needs.

And if you have a really big party, you could book the whole place.

Who should go to CTRL-V Guelph/Party groups that would work well:

  • Teenagers! No worries about finding a movie they all want to see or doing what's 'cool'. VR!
  • A mixed age group - families or Parent-Kids groups looking for something that pleases all.
  • Company Socials - Tell your work social committee chair about VR and your next work event will be worth attending.
  • Date Night? Robin and I are kicking around the idea of joining the QuiVr league (more on that below). A competition that we can move around to fit our schedule! Perfection.

Now, back to the gushing... and well, honestly, the best way to convince you to try Virtual Reality is to gush a bit.  Every grown-up or kid we've done it with gushes after.  We gushed too.  It generally is a back-and-forth gushing about what amazing, otherworldly experience we all have just had and a childlike enthusiasm to convey it just overtakes us.

So let me try to objectively describe a few games/experiences (CTRL-V Guelph has over 60 to choose from). The games tend to run the usual gambit of physics, shooters, strategy, sports, etc, but all with a VR spin. Below, I've tried to talk about a few unexpected things and games that might help sway people on the Virtual Fence.

A tower defense game, but unlike anything you've played tapping the screen on your phone. I can't stress how cool it feels to physically reach for an arrow, draw back and fire a shot in VR. There is a pile of other features, but I honestly lost a half hour of my life just firing conventional arrows at charging villains.  CTRL-V Guelph has a league too - so if you're into competition and co-ed volleyball isn't your thing - this might be.

World of Diving 
Not a gamer? The best part of VR is that so much of it is just 'being' there. World of Diving is a prime example. It has some goals in it, but most of the time is spent floating around the reef, looking at fish and coral.  All the while your headphones fully complete the feeling of being underwater with whooshy bubble, SCUBA mask and ocean sounds.

Job Simulator 

Every adult (including us) will just shake their head at this.  Kids? They typically spend a big chunk of their VR time playing this game. It is a cartoon-y, stick-robot world where you do entry-level jobs like Convenience Store clerk, Cubicle worker, Resturant worker... as poorly as possible.  Pouring coffee in your computer, throwing a burrito at someone and ignoring your boss... wait, I suddenly see why this could be fun!

Vesper Peak 
A perfect intro to how Virtual Reality can take something simple and make it immersive. Climb a mountain, enjoy the beautiful views and play fetch with your cute robot dog.

Mars Odyssey
As a teacher, a game like this excites me for the future of interactive educational games. Standing on the surface of Mars, I looked around, learned about and conducted repairs on the Mars Rover among other scientific probes. Watching the sunrise over a theoretical human settlement on the red planet was pretty cool too.

So make the best of the remaining winter and get indoors and go diving, fight an army, race a car or throw a burrito.

CTRL-V Guelph is offering a discount to you, our good readers! 
Mention Frugal Family Times at the check-in, get $5 off regular sessions.  Discount valid only at the Guelph, Ontario location. (Cannot be combined with other discounts including but not limited to 4 Pack, 8 Pack and Party Pack). And they have said there is no expiry on this offer! 

Want more VR in your Inbox? Sign up for CTRL-V Guelph's newsletter here.

For years we've shared some really fun birthday party ideas 
- including our latest Ocean's Eleven Heist Birthday Party 
- check them out here!

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