Into the unknown

A new virtual reality experience in Lagos can offer players all kinds of adventures

Whether it’s the latest smartphone, smart TV or social media trend, it seems there is a never-ending slew of new things we must keep up with. But what about an entire reality?

Based in Lagos Marina, VR-Katvision is the brainchild of Jean Paul Louçano and his family, a place where people can share an experience together, regardless of their age, gender, nationality or even their idea of fun with virtually no boundaries.

After the recession, Jean Paul and his family decided to embark on a new adventure and moved to Switzerland in 2011. Coming from an intense career in large-scale electrical installation projects, he set out on a completely different path and started working in an arcade where customers could go bowling, play mini-golf and much more. He loved going to work, “not for the money, but because the customers were always happy and enjoying themselves”.

Longing for Algarvian sunshine, Jean Paul started to research ways he could bring this “centre of fun and smiles” back to his home turf. After some research, his dream began to take shape and he opened the first virtual reality centre in the Algarve, the second of its kind in Portugal.

But what exactly is virtual reality? Like most things high-tech, the idea was said to have derived from a science fiction novel. Written in 1935 by Stanley G. Weinbaum, Pygmalion’s Spectacles told the story of a professor who invented a pair of goggles that enabled the person wearing them to experience the taste, smell and touch of the story they were reading. Essentially, virtual reality acts as a completely immersive experience – it feels real, and it is interactive.

The beauty of virtual reality is that, although the technology is complex, users do not need a degree in computer science to enjoy it. This authentic experience can be enjoyed by all ages and all technical abilities, alone or together.

VR-Katvision in Lagos offers three different ways to enter this exciting new world. The most varied virtual reality experience allows players to challenge their friends or themselves in unique experiences, such as playing a competitive round of tennis or busting out moves on the dance floor. Visitors can also take part in a spooky adventure or fly a rocket through a city of skyscrapers.

Jean Paul’s favourite game allows you to be a real-life cowboy and defend your ranch in a shoot-off. Players have plenty of space so they can move freely in their virtual world and feel a real sense of immersion. All you need is a headset and two controllers. For petrol heads and adrenaline junkies, VR-Katvision offers six Racing Cube simulators where you are put in the driver’s seat with a headset and, if required, a steering wheel. The simulator can make smooth movements to replicate a car, plane, or rollercoaster.

With the innovative rotation module, you can feel the car or plane move with you and, therefore, be more confident in the vehicle. The platform can also replicate the texture of the road, breaks and even engine vibrations, making this the best sensory experience. Finally, there are three “mini ‘katwalk’ platforms, which are arguably the most authentic and immersive”. This concept has no restrictions and an unlimited number of actions and movements.

Players are equipped with a headset and strap on the waist and feet so they can rotate, run, walk, crouch and retreat. The character runs when you run, turns its head when you do and shoots when you fire your gun. The new shock-absorbing base is designed to protect the knees and allow a long session without causing physical discomfort to the user.

Once guests are ready to step back into ‘real life’, VR-Katvision has a trendy, American-style cocktail bar where guests can enjoy an extensive choice of drinks carefully crafted by mixologist Kevin who is Jean Paul’s son. Guests can also enjoy some light tapas throughout the week and other great food during their weekend events.

Whether you are a tech-lover or a technophobe, VR-Katvision offers a truly unique experience and is a fantastic, new addition to Lagos. After all, where else can you share a bite to eat whilst flying a rocket?

By Alex Brennan