Fighting Zombies On the Seventh Floor

* By Nicholas Slayton Jul 20, 2017

DTLA - What if there was a way to step out of the day-to-day reality of Downtown Los Angeles and enter a virtual one — and then fight zombies and cowboys?

That’s on the menu at Escape to Virtual Reality, a gaming space that opened on Wednesday, July 12. The 1,800-square-foot space on the seventh floor of the International Mart building at 155 W. Washington Blvd. offers four full-motion, wireless virtual reality games. Two game rooms can each hold two people.

The company was founded by CEO Charlotte Santiago and Vice President Nick Alcid. They set out to offer games different than people can play at home on systems such as Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.

“I didn’t want to pay $25 to play something that my next-door neighbor has,” Alcid said.

Each game room has 10 cameras mounted on the ceiling. Those connect with motion-tracking systems on the helmets and guns players use, translating body movements into the game without any wires. A digital grid players can see keeps them from running into walls. Headphones on the helmets add music and sound effects.

Escape to Virtual Reality currently offers four games. There’s the horror-tinged survival contest “Time Zombies,” the western shootout “Barking Irons,” “Dronestorm,” a kind of 3-D version of arcade games like “Centipede,” and “Planktos,” an underwater game where players must ward off attacking piranha.

Game sessions generally last 5-15 minutes, depending on players’ skill and the number of levels in a game (“Barking Irons,” for instance, has 17). Prices are currently $10, and jump to $20 in August.

Alcid acknowledged that being on the seventh floor of a building just south of the 10 Freeway makes it harder to bring in customers off the street, but he expects word-of-mouth from players to compensate for the logistical hurdle.

Escape to Virtual Reality is at 155 W. Washington Blvd., Ste. 711 or escapetovirtualreality.com.