Chuck E. Cheese’s, America’s leading purveyor of noisy children’s entertainment, plastic spider rings, and mediocre pizza, has announced that it will be introducing the Oculus Rift to birthday parties in select markets. For the next six weeks, lucky birthday boys and girls in Dallas, San Diego, and Orlando, will be able to don the VR headset for a turn in “Chuck E. Cheese’s Virtual Ticket Blaster Experience.”
The Analog Ticket Blaster Experience, already a staple of Chuck E. Cheese’s birthday parties, places the child into a large plastic tube that pneumatic air blasters fill with a terrifying maelstrom of tickets. The child frantically snatches as many tickets as they are able to in the allotted time, which they can then go spend on the aforementioned spider rings and snap bracelets (my image of Chuck E. Cheese’s is fossilized from the early 90s – they probably get iPhones now). Now with the addition of Oculus VR headset, the child can collect virtual tickets inside a virtual tube – O brave new world!
“Kids today have unprecedented access to game consoles and tablets,” said Roger Cardinale, president, CEC Entertainment, Inc. “Our challenge is to deliver an experience not available at home, and there is no doubt virtual reality does just that. Oculus Rift technology is the next frontier in the gaming industry, and we’re thrilled to be able to say it’s part of the Chuck E. Cheese’s lineup.”
I recall having my young mind blown by a crude VR game at a Dave & Buster’s in 1994 – choppy head-tracking and unrecognizable polygonal enemies did nothing to detract from my Tron and Lawnmower Man fantasies. If anything, the rough edges made clearer the outline of the striving ingenuity involved. Now that the technology has improved so drastically, will children be all the more enthralled to enter cyberspace, or will that very seamlessness render the magic invisible and commonplace to a generation raised on iPads? Book your child’s party now to see for yourself.