Oculus Rift is being tested by Chuck E. Cheese for use in its stores with the Virtual Ticket Blaster the company announced today. The six week testing phase is starting in Dallas, TX and moving onto San Diego, CA and Orlando, FL later on in the month.
According to Business Insdier, the project started in 2012 with Dallas-based studio Reel FX who have produced content for Oculus Rift technology centered around live-action content. They have also worked with CEC Entertainment on a Chuck E. Cheese mobile app so the partnership is not surprising. The official press release quoted Reel FX found Dale Carman as saying, "We believe that virtual reality eventually will be as popular as our handheld devices. It's a game–changer, and we're investing incredible time and talent into developing content for the Oculus Rift."
The game itself will be available for booked birthday parties where the Birthday Star gets a turn in the virtual Ticket Blaster. The physical ticket blaster is a vertical tube in which the player tries to catch tickets flying through the air in a cyclone of wind in a set amount of time. Instead of using the actual Ticket Blaster, the lucky child will be able to virtually catch tickets. The Oculus Rift headset will register the number of tickets collected, which will be fully redeemable at the merchandise counter.
For those of us who grew up in the 1980's, the rise (and fall) of the arcade is a found memory often times built around the local pizzeria or gas station. In 1977 the founder of Atari, Nolan Bushnell, created Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theatre around his fondness of The Walt Disney Company. Chuck E. Cheese would cater to the idea of arcade games, pizza and entertainment in the form of an anthropomorphic mouse named Chuck E. Cheese. Later on the company merged with the struggling ShowBiz Pizza, "Where a Kid Can Be A Kid!"
As the arcade dwindled in popularity and the video game industry took off in the late 80's with the advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Chuck E. Cheese's found itself struggling and after Chapter 11 proceedings and a public stock offering. The company was recently bought in February 2014 by Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm who specializes in companies in the midst of restructuring.
But the Oculus Rift gives Chuck E. Cheese something it has not had since its founding in 1977, something you can not have at home, yet. "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."
Oculus Rift indeed has an incredible sense of momentum behind it. A highly successful Kickstarter to fund dev kits was followed by a billion dollar buy out by Facebook and constant recruitment of top talent has given the VR company a good deal of momentum. The idea of implementing Oculus Rift in Chuck E. Cheese is yet another step in how Oculus VR wants to integrate on as many levels as possible in entertainment including film, music and gaming.
The first store equipped with "Chuck E. Cheese's Virtual Ticket Blaster Experience" will be at 13364 Montfort Drive in Dallas. Later this month will be 15 more locations in the Dallas–Fort Worth area, six in Orlando, Fla., and eight in San Diego, Calif.
Image Source | Chuck E. Cheese