Virtual but social reality The Zero Latency experience in Milan-

There is nothing to do, the zombie never dies. And not so much a question of where you hit him (in the head!) But a cultural fact: the brain-eating undead, as it seems absurd to say, has been on the podium of popular imagination for more than 40 years. And from there in movies, TV series and of course video games. So we are in front of us, always in hungry horde mode, even in our first experience at Zero Latency in Milan. What is it? The first arena of social virtual reality e free-roam (where you can move physically and freely) to open in the city – and in Italy – giving way to what could be a new way of meeting post-pandemic. Combining the digital that has accompanied us in recent months to the newfound freedom to see us in person. We are not yet able to understand how much grip it will be able to make on the Italian public, a lover of the outdoors and analogue sociality. But the other European variations of the Australian franchise – in Madrid, for example – they are working well. To the point that in Milan a competitor has already sprung up: AvatarVr, expected to open in June. Not one swallow, therefore, but two.

Let’s go back to zombies and Undead Arena, our second shared virtual reality experience, in a play area of ​​140 square meters. What Zero Latency Italia proposes, the 52nd headquarters in the world and the first in our country ( arriving in Rome). There were two of us inside, almost always back to back as – I find out – comes naturally when you have undead attacking you from everywhere. The game itself is obvious: you have to survive with shotgun shots, chosen by lovers of the genre, or machine gun or crossbow. What is different, in addition to the fear that although unmotivated (all digital) it is difficult to unstuck, play it with one or more companions. That we see “physically” next to us – with sensors and alerts that prevent us from bumping into them – and with whom we talk, to share improvised tactics or simply the wonder of being together in a non-place.

This definition is especially true for Engineerium, the introductory experience proven at Zero Latency. Where, we discover with pleasure, for once you don’t shoot. The world that appears before us is a real enchantment, with Mayan derivations, fantastic animals and the essence of the virtual: let us experience impossible worlds firsthand. And throw the real challenge to our brains (other than zombies): make them believe what cannot exist. In Engineerium, the paths suspended in the air, over a vast expanse of sea, take anti-gravitational perspectives, Escher could say: the thin strip of land surrounded by a (fake) free fall that puts a strain on our dizziness, at a certain point turns surprisingly up or down, or twists to the right and left. In 360 degree curves that tell us loudly stay still, don’t move or fall!. But the purpose of the game is to move on, to find out what comes next. And then we try to remember that we are in Milan, 5 minutes from the metro Bisceglie, on a perfectly level floor. But useless, in front of us there is a road that violates our certainties of physics and taking courage with our fellow adventurers, we try to face it. Stopping every now and then so as not to fall into reality – because in the twist of sensations it can happen – or proceeding on all fours or even crawling: success!

After half an hour of virtual – 15 + 15 minutes of the two experiences – we are tired and sweaty, not even the zombies we had hunted for real. And then a useful pause to recalibrate the brain-reality tuning, we are ready for the grand finale: Far Cry. We are the first to play it in Italy, in its VR and free-roam version, and in addition to immediately establishing itself as the most engaging narrative of a so-called triple A game, those with higher budgets than Hollywood films, we understand the potential of places like Zero Latency. That is to propose to its customers the virtual and social versions of the great games played at home. It starts from the Ubisoft blockbuster, in version 3, a Dive to Insanity in the lush Rook Island and among the pirates of Vaas. The details, the narration and even the intelligence of our digital opponents immediately take another turn, from author vr experience. The half hour of immersion seems to last a moment, so intense, and living it in four friends makes it a truly new and intriguing social experience.

Here are the games that you can try at Zero Latency in Milan, in addition to the space Singularity and two other upcoming titles, including one dedicated to children aged 10 and up. The arenas are structured to accommodate up to 8 participants at a time, reduced for now to 6 due to security protocols. Mask must be worn, you get lost in software that have the unique feature of being calibrated to the environments in which they come to life: the percentage of errors and glitches are reduced to almost zero, while maintaining certain the inability to crash between players or against walls. We remember, they exist in reality but not in the forests of Rook Island. To tell us the behind the scenes of the virtual, managed by PC backpacks branded Hp (to which are added, headphones, viewers and a real rifle), are three of the eight founding members, one heterogeneous group of MBA graduates from the Politecnico di Milano. The American CEO Ben Thomson, the arena-software architect the Russian Valentina Smirenina and the Italian Virginia Soana the manager of the location. Which is located in via Bisceglie 74, in Milan. On the site you will find all the information, including prices ranging from 15 to 40 euros per person depending on the experience chosen.

June 3, 2021 (change June 3, 2021 | 15:45)



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