When my mind turns to the inevitability Zombie apocalypse, I pretty much give myself two weeks before I’m bitten and join a herd of undead clamoring for brains. I have no practical skills to speak of, and I have difficulty maintaining the requisite gallon-of-bourbon-per-mammal-per-day earthquake-survival rations without routinely breaking into my own stash.
So I suspected I’d be terrible at killing zombies, and now I have proof. Exit Reality’s Virtual Reality Experience Cube, open weeknights and weekends inside the Myriad at 2175 Market St., laid me low. But in the 23 minutes that I spent shooting the insatiable enemy (and also playing games of skill in a circus-themed fun house) I worked up a sweat and gave myself an almost compulsive case of the giggles.
It’s simple: You just speak with the attendant, and she plugs you in and helps you navigate which games you want to play, to the tune of a dollar a minute. Since you’re in a semi-enclosed box with a monitor hooked up to it, everyone can see your every clumsy move — and I definitely walked into very real walls, over and over. Since I couldn’t take notes, I have no recollection of how many zombies I killed, but I was definitely munched on about half a dozen times. They come at your from all directions, in the dark, and even though you have a gun in your right hand and a flashlight-slash-knife in your left, you spend most of your time pivoting around in what looks to be a burned out city playground, hoping to decapitate them before they sneak up on you. (You can also choose a sewer tunnel as your theater of war, but it’s intense already and I have enough night terrors as it is.)
Possibly hoping to expose me to as many games as possible or possibly pitying me, the woman running the show let me try my hand at the games in the fun house. (You can also play Fruit Ninja.) I’m as inept at lighting an arrow on fire and shooting targets as I am at slaying zombies, but it turns out I’m pretty awesome at Whack-a-Mole and popping balloons with my sword. Also at firing a water gun into a sinister clown’s mouth to inflate a balloon until it bursts. I don’t have coulrophobia, or the fear of clowns. I have coulrophilia, in that I love them so much I want them to explode from the force of me shooting at them.
Switching between tools like big cartoon mallets and slender blades is slightly jarring; you might need a little time to recalibrate your muscles, and the clock’s a-ticking. This was only my second-ever encounter with state-of-the-art VR, and the perceptual weirdness does take some getting used to. But even when you’re not someone who routinely plays video games, and you’re also a bespectacled person and the headset is squeezing your glasses tight to your cranium, it’s a lot of fun. I was completely out of breath when I finished, and slightly sheepish from my uselessness in combat during World War Z, but I don’t remember having this much fun unleashing hurricanes on a some metropolis in SimCity 2000.
Exit Reality’s Virtual Reality Experience Cube, inside The Myriad, 2175 Market St., exit-vr.com