Jump Into the Light
By Kendrick Davis
The Matrix dominated box offices and captured our imaginations in 1999 with the possiblity of full-scale virtual worlds. The technology for virtual reality has improved dramatically over the last 18 years and the hopes and promises of what VR can achieve no longer feel as farfetched as they did in the ‘90s.
Companies like Google and Facebook have put billions of dollars into fine-tuning VR’s technological capabilities and making the hardware more accessible to the general public. The tech industry is already trying to incorporate VR into our everyday lives. Jump Into the Light is a virtual reality arcade located in Manhattan’s East Village along Bowery Ave. It aims to spread the word of VR’s growing presence and expose people to the game-changing progress.
Co-founders Michael Deathless and Dr. Sky (these are real people, I promise) boldly tag Jump Into the Light as ‘America’s First VR Cinema and Play Lab.’ After setting up shop in September 2016, it quickly became a hit and the duo is currently working on opening a second location in March.
Jump Into the Light looks more like a mad scientist’s garage than an Apple store. That’s its charm. Walking through the glass doors of the lab, there are cluttered wires behind every computer setup. There is a strong ‘DIY’ vibe in the playroom, where you can spot retractable dog leashes on the ceiling used to keep active players in place. Xbox One Kinects are separated from the rest of its console so that they can be mounted in ceiling corners for motion capture.
Jump Into the Light offers two ticket options for guests, with reduced pricing for students. The general admission ticket offers three experiences for $45. In the first experience, guests put on an Oculus Rift VR headset and take a 360-degree virtual tour around the world, including a visit to a Salvador Dali painting, a Frieze art fair, a tour of the Hadron Collider at Cern and various other short films. The second experience allows users to create and move things in VR with the Oculus Rift.
The final experience is the fan favorite, the full immersion gaming experience. Here guests put on the HTC Vive with compatible hand controllers and play a variety of VR games with the freedom to move around in the designated play space. Players can fly through a city, perform a balancing act hundreds of feet in the air and fight hoards of zombies in the virtual world while their friends and family can be entertained by the players awkwardly shuffling around in the real world.
The second ticket option includes everything above and the Ultimate 3D Selfie for $95. Guests stand on a rotating platform while being scanned by iPad. Then, after being run through a special app, guests will have mini avatar of themselves that they can share on social media and print out a ‘mini me’ to keep.
The Bowery Ave location of Jump Into the Light will be open until February 26. On March 1, it will be moving into a new location at 180 Orchid Street, which Deathless and Sky says will be a bigger venue with a more professional look.