China’s VR Star Theme Park is a Vision of the Future, But not for Western Audiences
Only because it would never get made.
If there’s one country in the world that’s going to go bigger and more outlandish than everyone else it’s going to be China – sorry America. In its bid to modernise and develop the country the Chinese government heavily invests in all sort of projects and industries, one of which is virtual reality (VR). While there are lots of theme parks in America and Europe beginning to employ VR on certain rides, China went one step further several years ago by building a theme park purely dedicated to VR. Originally called the Oriental Science Fiction Valley, it was thankfully renamed prior to opening in 2018 to the VR Star Theme Park. YouTuber Nathie was recently invited along to see the park, and VRFocus caught up with him to find out more.
Costing an estimated $1.5 billion to build and located in Guizhou, a province in southwestern China, the VR Star Theme Park features a massive assortment of VR rides for visitors to try, from more traditional theme park experiences where you’re sat on a ride to those that allow increase interaction, such as the new Beat Saber Arcade Machine.
While the park has been open for almost a year, from a western perspective little has been seen or heard about this extravagant complex. Nathie was invited over – check out his Youtube video here to get a glimpse for yourself – but VRFocus wanted to learn a little more about the park, how it might affect the VR industry and whether he’d recommend it.
The video tended to concentrate on the exciting looking rides – there were over 40 to choose from – but there was more to the complex than just entertainment. One of the biggest segments of the park was one massive building that completely catered to the history of VR, with visitors able to see old headsets, timelines of development in Silicon Valley as well as China’s history of VR.
“You could go through time, through the past, present and future of VR, and I think that’s something that no other arcade does. Where you visit it and learn about the history of VR, before getting to experience it. I think that’s an awesome combination,” Nathie commented.
As mentioned, when it comes to western parks the current habit is to augmented a currently existing roller coaster with VR headsets rather than build anything new. When asked about whether he thought the concept would work in Europe or North America Nathie responded: “I doubt that this would work there in the long run. It’s not in peoples DNA yet to go to a VR arcade when looking for fun activities. It’s hard to get it on the map. The costs that went into VR Star are so big that it would be hard to earn that back in Europe or the US (in the short term).”
With the amount of tech on offer it looks like a gamers paradise, would Nathie recommend a trip: “For sure this is the Walhalla for every VR enthusiast. All the simulators are there and all the headsets you ever dreamt of can be tried.
“They used a variety of headsets depending on the simulator. I have used the Vive, Rift, Gear VR, Odyssey, Pimax, DPVR, 3D Glasses and many more Chinese brands we have never seen getting sold in the Western market.”
“When it started to get darker everything starts to light up to really catch the eye, and that’s what VR needs,” he muses. “It really needs to be cool, a lot of people see VR as something clumsy, and I feel with a badass arcade like this they really nail it.”
Sounds good to us. For all the latest VR news and updates from around the world, keep reading VRFocus.