What motivated you to start a small business in VR?
Overseas, it costs quite a bit to get an ESL teacher to do Skype interviews. As VR started, we were thinking about setting up something to teach students via VR. Just simple games to make it more exciting for students to learn. Learning language is the main purpose, but the lounge is sort of our bread and butter.
So how many games are there now, starting from seventeen?
We have over 200 games. There’s probably close to a thousand. It’s grown a lot since the beginning. Small developers have an advantage because the big companies are geared toward non-VR games.
How has the company grown since you started?
Our original goal was to use VR to teach English. We used to be English teachers overseas and its so hard to get all the students to concentrate and listen to a teacher, especially if they don’t understand. We had to continuously make games ourselves for English words. When we’re teaching English this is the most powerful tool and so we opened the VR lounge.
VR is not just for education. For downtown tourists we made holograms, so when you’re on a ghost tour you can see a hologram ghost on your phone while the guide is telling the story. You can also make a hologram guide with different languages for tourists.
After we develop the English learning there’s so much coming down the road.
The truth is, if you set up a bot and you spend time on it, it can get really smart. You teach it the basics, and then after that whatever it does, it’s doing on its own. I have to be honest, AI scares me a bit. I think its smart to be careful with the technology.
The first year a lot of people didn’t know what VR was. We do a lot of promotions, going out and setting up in a spot where people can try for free. We’ve introduced it to kids with VR Fun Houses where everyone can see on the screen what they’re playing and show people that this is educational and fun. From kids to seniors, for the entertainment part of VR Lounge, there’s a lot of people already starting to look for us as a thing to do.
It’s pretty cool to see older people getting into it easily. It totally eliminates the idea that gaming is just for kids. My mom could even do Hollow Point. She has osteoarthritis and scoliosis.
What has been your biggest inspiration?
The ability to have no limits! That’s literally what VR is—it takes away all limits. People get over fears this way. Tanya got over her fear of heights by accident, with VR.
Six- to twelve- 45 minute sessions can cure phobias in VR.
What are the main challenges you have faced?
We’re doing stuff that no one has done before. If you want to build an android app, you can find tons of information but there’s no one really developing the VR field. I guess you could say we’re kind of making our own path.
Plans for the future?
We have to find a way to make VR part of the business long term. Development is already long term, but with this business is would be great to spread out. Imagine having VR in the ferry, you could experience Victoria by flying around the city, before you even arrive! Once, we visited a seniors home and there was this guy with dementia, one eye missing, in a wheelchair. We put him in a headset and we brought him to his home in New Zealand. You can see the limitless advantages of VR.