The Link Between The Oculus Rift & Chuck E. Cheese

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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The Link Between The Oculus Rift & Chuck E. Cheese

It's perhaps one of the most preposterous ideas seen lately, but it's no less true for its sheer outlandishness. There is indeed a link between the Oculus Rift and kiddie pizza haven Chuck E. Cheese, and it's one that alternately horrifies and makes too much sense. According to some current reports, Chuck E. Cheese may soon be dropping the bulky machines and instead going digital.

Right now, the process is a comparatively simple one. 29 Chuck E. Cheese locations will be getting Oculus Rift systems, all geared to replace just one game: the Virtual Ticket Blaster. The version demonstrated so far involves players getting into a booth and grabbing tickets as they fly around said enclosed booth. Where normally, this would be done with actual tickets and a big fan, now it's done virtually, requiring kids to line up crosshairs with tickets in order to “grab” said tickets. Essentially, it's being billed as a means to provide kids with an experience not commonly available at home, but the problem here is, why wouldn't it be?

Aside from the booth, there is essentially no part of the Virtual Ticket Blaster that couldn't be done at home on a home PC with an Oculus Rift hooked to it. Sure, kids wouldn't get the actual tickets redeemable for an assortment of prizes, some garbage, some pretty impressive, but there's literally nothing I can spot that would make this impossible to, say, port to a gaming site like Kongregate or Armor Games. Come to think of it, what's to stop Chuck E. Cheese from pulling out all of its games and replacing same with an Oculus Rift at a table? Users would be able to select their game of choice right from the table and play, potentially with controls built into the table itself or attached to controllers connected to the system at the table. Think about how, in “Back to the Future 2,” Marty Jr. walked into the dining room after the family sat down to a dinner of rehydrated Pizza Hut pizza wearing a set of television goggles that also served as phones. This is exactly the kind of effect that Chuck E. Cheese could go for: consider a normal Chuck E. Cheese environment, with all the games and tables and food, if you can call it food. Culinary criticism aside, now pull out all the games and put said games onto a couple of central servers with a user interface that allows users to select a game. Now, the user can select the game of interest, and start playing it from the server with the results displaying in the Oculus Rift. That opens up a lot of floor space for Chuck E. Cheese to get more tables in, and none of the kids have to wait for a machine to open up.

Sounds fun, on a certain level, and likewise feasible. Sure, some machines would lose something in the translation, like the “Aliens: Colonial Marines” machine that features pulse rifle replicas for controls. Some machines, like most of the “Dance Dance Revolution” line, would be largely unplayable. But considering the number of machines that could be outright replaced by a trigger-grip controller and an Oculus Rift, well, the possibilities go on for days.

But then, if that's the case, then what point is there in a Chuck E. Cheese at all? Have the kids sit at home, microwave a pizza, and let them shoot their digital hearts out right in the house. There is a social element that many arcade replacements haven't considered, though it's likewise possible we'll end up with a slightly later than expected version of “Back to the Future 2” once more. Remember the kid confronted with “Wild Gunman”?

“You mean you have to use your hands? That's like a baby's toy!”

A baby's toy. Could video games of tomorrow be used without hand-based controls, lest they be branded “baby's toys”? Could the idea of Chuck E. Cheese be fundamentally reduced to servers, microwave pizza and prizes received via two-day UPS shipment? It's a possibility, like so many other things we see...but just which possibilities become reality, ah, that's anyone's guess.

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