Chicago’s Ravenswood has been on the rise for years becoming one of Chicago’s most fashionable neighborhoods and now it can add Redline VR as one of its notable residents. This virtual reality arcade promises to deliver immersive and unique VR experiences. Sugar Gamers is excited that Redline co-founders Jonathan Irons and Aaron Sawyer have chosen Chicago to be the home for their business. Chicago has become a hotbed of new gaming and tech businesses popping up everywhere. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to talk with these two about Redline and what’s on the horizon for VR.

VR is not a new trend. Why do you think VR will stick this time around. Do you believe it will live up to the hype we have been hearing about?

The long and short of it, is that when people put on a VR headset now, they really, really like it. The headsets are better, and game designs are more intuitive. Figuring out just how VR works itself into people’s social lives is the challenge, and we think the way forward is to add VR/AR to familiar group oriented activities like Wine & Paint Night, Escape Rooms, or as a major upgrade to photobooths, etc at weddings, fundraisers. 

What made you want to open up such a large VR arcade in Chicago of all places?

I’m not sure we think of it as large! Our space can house 9-11 immersive bays depending on the layout, but that’s barely big enough to handle the experiences we want to bring the city. If two groups rent headsets to play 2v2 multiplayer, we’ll just have one bay left! We’d like to have a larger, and more elaborate VR escape room than we can currently house, and I’d love to explore a place for VR/AR group workouts in the near future.

What inspires you most about VR?

I love how it challenges your whole body and demands your focus. Your heart is pounding as you duck and twist to accomplish your goals- and no cell phone notifications will distrupt you. I hadn’t realized how rare it is to be immersed in something so completely.

What do you hope to see in the next few years in the world of Virtual Reality?

I’d love for high quality headsets to become lighter and self-contained. I’m excited for advances in AR/VR inclusion in education as well- especially history and biology education!  
Redline VR offers some unique experiences- how do you differ from other VR arcades.
Redline VR focuses on enhancing the familiar with curated and unique VR/AR content that enhances group experiences. Each experience has been customized for interactive, social fun. Our nine arcade bays surround a central bar with an open, female-friendly design that includes a 10×10′ back wall projection of the game with “instagram ready” lighting and subtle sensory cues to keep players safe. The bar experience is enhanced with VR Drink Experiences that immersively prepare customers to experience select drinks in an entertaining and informative way. Our Mixed Reality Escape Rooms offer a unique twist on this popular activity, allowing customers to adjust the dials on the difficulty and profanity levels from “kids birthday party” to “R-rated veterans.” When it comes to parties, we offer a cos-play host for Star Trek Bridge Crew (Doctor Beverly Crusher) and Beat Saber (Rey). 

What headsets do you most prominently use and why?

We’ve chosen the HTC Vive Pro for our arcade due to it’s superior display and dial headstrap that’s easy and intuitive for first-timers. We also have OculusGo headsets for our bar, where we feature proprietary original content in our “Drink Experiences”

What are some of your top VR recommends?

I am addicted to multiplayer games that let you talk and strategize with others in VR. Specifically, I keep playing Elven Assassin, Smashbox, and Cowbots and Aliens.

I love sharing Beat Saber and Star Trek Bridge Crew to friends, as well as a hilarious and cleansing- but morally reprehensible- game called Drunkn Bar Fight where you drink for “strength” and punch people in a bar for no reason until you get what you deserve. More personally,  I grew up sailing competitively with my dad, but I haven’t been able to find the time (or money) to continue to be on the lake. Virtual Reality Sailing has such a realistic portrayal of small boat racing, that I log in several times a week to compete with other sailors on daily courses and maintain my standing on the leaderboard; I always leave feeling the same kind of refreshed buzz that I did as a child.  

Are there any games people can’t beat you on? Sugar Gamers will rise to that challenge!

I’ll defend my world ranking in Virtual Reality Sailing! And I’m pretty great at Rush! Will you also be dabbling in AR, Mixed Reality, XR- if so- in what ways? We will have wine bottles with AR labels and other surprises throughout the location that enhance traditional experiences. 

When will you be open? 

We plan to be open by April, 2020

We’d like to thank these two for taking the time to chat with us and we cannot wait to get into Redline! To keep up to date with all things Redline, you can follow them on social media.

Facebook- http://facebook.com/redlinevirtualreality/ 
Twitter
– @redlinevr Instagram @redlinevr 

Interview conducted by Keisha Howard