By CHRIS McGOWAN
VR party games are a relatively new subgenre of VR games that are bringing people together in an old-fashioned way – with gatherings in the same place in the real world. While multiplayer VR games and social VR platforms bring groups together, it is usually in a virtual world where users tend to be home alone with their virtual reality headsets. VR party games like Loco Dojo, Late for Work, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and Acron: Attack of the Squirrels! take a different approach.
“VR party games are generally played together in one room,” says Yacine Salmi, Managing Director of Munich-based Salmi Games. “One person under the headset, the others on gamepads at a PC/console or on their phones. They are generally meant to be enjoyed together in a setting and to encourage taking turns under the VR headset.” One of the studio’s titles is Late for Work, in which a rampaging giant gorilla (the player in the headset) is pitted against up to four human opponents (on PCs).
“A VR party game has a focus on fun and hilarity first, competition second,” comments Sam Watts, Immersive Partnerships Director of Make Real, which publishes Loco Dojo and is based in Brighton, U.K. The multiplayer title features 16 humorous mini-games to play to gain the favor of the “Grand Sensei.” It seeks to bring multiple VR headset users together in one room. “Loco Dojo was meant to be played together, [with] all having a great time virtually but also physically present with one another, which is why it’s been a great success in location-based entertainment VR arcades.”
Watts explains, “VR party games are quick to play, across multiple devices if available, with the emphasis on throughput and making sure as many people as possible at the party can play.” At the very least, there’s a great reason to be in the audience if you are not playing. In contrast, “straight-up multiplayer games are more about competition and typically last longer per session.”
“The biggest distinction between VR party games and other VR multiplayer games is that you will likely have only one VR headset available in a party scenario. That means the game must be designed to involve multiple local players using just one headset,” comments Taraneh Dohmer, Game Studio Operations and Communications Lead for Ottawa-based Steel Crate Games, which publishes Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. In the game, players – one with a VR headset and the others with no electronic devices at all – must work together to defuse a bomb.