Zero Latency VR is the city’s latest attraction, for residents and tourists alike. We spoke to Parineeta Rajgarhia, the woman leading the charge on this new way to have adventures.
Gaming, over the course of the last few years, has assumed quite the significance. From being primarily the ‘playing grounds’ for kids and young adults, the industry has blossomed as more and more age groups have gotten involved. Of course, tech advancements have resulted in the emergence of not just entirely new kinds of gaming experiences but also a wholly new audience profile. Virtual Reality (VR) gaming is one such revolutionary concept. While initial years saw issues related to graphics quality or seamless performance, today, VR gaming has advanced to incredible heights. For India, there’s exciting news. Zero Latency, a global leader in warehouse scale, free-roam, multiplayer virtual reality entertainment, present across 22 countries worldwide, is now in India.
Parineeta Rajgarhia, founder and managing partner of Samrey Entertainments, is the brains behind the collaboration with the brand and its introduction to the country’s burgeoning gaming community. The inspiration was based entirely on the incredible impression Zero Latency left on her. By her own admission, although not a gamer or a TV bug, when she was first stumbled upon Zero Latency VR in Bangkok a couple of years ago, she was left awestruck. “I love travelling and new experiences. I’m no gamer but when I experienced what Zero Latency VR had to offer, I was completely blown away. It was like being transported to a different world and I had never imagined I would not just enjoy but absolutely love something like this. It was also a time when I was looking for a new venture. I had been involved with a clothing brand and was searching for something new. When I came across Zero Latency VR, I thought we should have this in India. And that’s how the idea came about.”
Parineeta’s excitement about the idea is evident enough in the time within which Zero Latency VR was launched in India. She started the conversation with the parent company in January 2019, after her incredible experience in Bangkok and by August of the same year, the first facility in Mumbai was launched. Of course, Covid had its own plans, but Parineeta feels that the pandemic sort of acted as a fillip to the gaming industry, it being one of the few safe ways of interacting through times when pretty much all social interaction was risky. “I knew, of course, that gaming was picking up, but I had no clue that it would be at this rate. Online gaming really picked up during the pandemic months and it generated a lot of interest in the space. Nowadays, people want a social experience when they’re gaming and VR gaming, I believe, is the future.”
Zero Latency VR is futuristic indeed. It’s a free-roam experience, where players can engage across a space that’s spread across 2,000 sq ft, completely untethered. The donning room is where the players are briefed about the game, the equipment and safety regulations. There’s a VR headset, a backpack with a CPU, and of course, the controller. A total of eight players can play a game simultaneously and interact with each other. Two attendants keep close watch on the proceedings, one on the gaming floor itself to assist with technical difficulties while another is connected to the players’ comms system and the in-game video and can give instructions to help with the experience.
The tech itself is also very advanced. When Zero Latency VR launched in India, the equipment was the 2.0 version, which allows for playing of certain games that aren’t available globally. Aside from the standard 15- and 30-minute games, in India, players also have the option of the 45-minute package.
The response to Zero Latency VR in Mumbai, says Parineeta, has been phenomenal. Although the pandemic shut things down within just a few months of launch, in that time, players from across age groups and profiles showed enormous interest. “The pandemic was, of course, very tough. We didn’t expect it to get prolonged for such a long time. But what kept us going was the response from our customers. People showed us so much love, it was extremely encouraging. In fact, when we launched, we had the two game times, 15 minutes and 30 minutes. It was because the players kept asking us to extend the experience that we launched the 45-minute version. There were so many repeat customers, that we even knew them personally. When we reopened after the first wave, all our old customers started calling. It has been great.”
Despite the great response though, the restrictions have not been easy to deal with, especially considering that VR gaming in India gets clubbed with the entertainment industry or theatres, which are still grappling to work around them. “VR gaming deserves its own sub-bracket under the entertainment industry. Not only do we not have the same numbers of people interacting with each other at the same time but also, our hygiene practices are very different. We sanitise each and every bit of equipment after every use.” Going ahead, there are more facilities expected to come up across the country, with Parineeta confident in the metros taking to the concept. And she feels that a robust community with strong representation is crucial for the gaming industry to flourish.
Whether you’re an avid gamer or not, Zero Latency VR is an experience that you must sample for yourself. Even as social experiences evolve and new platforms emerge every day that open up entirely new opportunities to interact with others, there are some ways that are just more fun than the others. But don’t take our word for it, find out for yourself.