July 22, 2024
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July 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Visiting the World of ‘VR Dog’

Traveling through space and fighting zombies has never been easier nor more fun. Located in Paramus, New Jersey, on the site where Liberty Travel used to be, “VR Dog” is a new, immersive experience that transports users into the world of virtual reality (VR). My wife, Ahuva, and I had the privilege of meeting Glen, one of the two owners, who gave us a tour of the facility.

Glen told us that he had previously worked in tech at Marsch McLennan (ironically, the same company where I currently work) before he and his wife, Lisa, opened VR Dog in February 2022. Glen and his family are big video gamers, so on one of their family vacations, they decided to visit a VR place to try out their gaming systems. They were blown away by the realism and special effects of the games, so much so that they decided right then and there to open up a similar VR location near their hometown Hackensack. A key difference between VR Dog and other VR locations is that at VR Dog, you do not need to wear any heavy and burdensome backpacks while playing the games.

At the beginning of the tour, Glen guided us to the “Open Room,” which is through the first door on the left when you enter the facility. The room was furnished with dozens of TVs hanging on the walls surrounding several booths with tables for sitting and eating in the middle of the room. The Open Room has games that allow for up to six players, and each game uses tethered wires to connect the VR headsets to a TV. One of the unique features of VR Dog is that onlookers sitting in the booths can watch the games that are being played from the user’s perspective on any of the TV screens. Some popular games include VR Laser Tag, Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs, Job Simulator, Fruit Ninja and Ping Pong. Glen told us that Job Simulator is one of the most popular experiences because people love trying out different jobs. There are more than 40 different VR games in the Open Room.

Next, we were shown the “Free Roam” room, which had a few TVs and comfortable couches. The middle of the room is a square-shaped grid with lines of tape breaking the floor into quadrants and completely cleared of any objects. Glen told us to avoid stepping out of the grid with our headsets on—the game designers created barriers in the VR world such as walls and cars so that we won’t have to be concerned about crashing into any real walls or objects. Then Glen directed us to a marked spot on the grid which would be the starting point of our game. He helped us each put on and adjust our VR headset, belt and gun, and we were ready to begin.

With the headset goggles on, I saw an entirely different world. Ahuva and I were suddenly in a futuristic city with flying cars and monorails zooming by us on all sides. All of the buildings were tinted purple, and the sun shone beautifully. After a minute of waiting, Glen loaded up the first game, and our reality suddenly changed again.

The first game we played was “Freedom LA Deadzone.” The premise of the game is that we were put into a dystopian Los Angeles in which zombies had destroyed most of the city. We were tasked with killing as many zombies as possible and reaching a generator to escape. To start, we were asked to select our avatars for the game by pointing each of our guns at the avatars we wanted and then pulling the trigger.

In the game, there were various areas in the streets, sewers, and buildings that we passed through to kill zombies. There were three kinds of zombies: regular zombies that were fast but easy to kill, faceless brown ones that were slow but harder to kill, and a final boss giant monster zombie.

Going into the game, I wasn’t sure how Ahuva would be able to handle it because she usually gets scared during movies that have creepy settings. Fortunately, that was not an issue, and she fearlessly shot at and killed hundreds of zombies. I, on the other hand, was terrified, even screaming out of fear a few times! The regular zombies were especially frightening as they looked like grotesque skeletons coming right up to you, making ghastly noises and breathing directly into your ear. Due to their quick speed, it was difficult to run away from them, and sometimes they would attack in hordes.

The game was exhilarating, and we both enjoyed it. The different rooms kept the game well-paced. Some rooms had hidden corridors where zombies would pop out, so we had to watch our surroundings the entire time. The game took a full 15 minutes, and my heart was pounding from being scared and running around so much.

After that game, we played a virtual Escape the Room game, called “Space Station Tiberius,” in which we had to complete various missions in order to escape. Glen took our guns away, replacing them with two hand grabbers. To help us accomplish our missions, the grabbers were used to pick up objects, pull levers and push buttons. The game started in a spaceship that had a huge glass window overlooking the earth. One of the missions was figuring out which country was underneath us and typing its name into a computer. The graphics were very realistic, allowing us to feel as if we were actually in outer space. We accomplished two out of three of the main missions, and although we had the right idea of how to accomplish the third one, we did not have enough time to complete it.

In addition to the two Free Roam games that Ahuva and I played, there are multiple other activities from which to choose, including another zombie survival game called “Arizona Sunshine” with gameplay of 30 minutes, and five other “Escape the Room” games: “Pirates Plague,” “Dragon Tower” and “Depths of Osiris,” each 30 minutes; “Manor of Escape,” which is 35 minutes; and “Time Travel Paradox,” which is 45 minutes.

After nearly an hour in virtual reality, I must admit we felt very distorted, unsure if we were still in virtual reality or back in the real world. We took a quick walk by the stream outside the store, taking a few minutes to get back to our senses before we were comfortable driving home.

VR Dog is a must-visit destination in our area. It is within close proximity to Teaneck, a great value activity, and it is a lot of fun. Additionally, VR Dog allows for private events such as birthday parties and team building exercises. A quick tip: Make sure to bring sneakers or comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking around and standing. I hope to revisit soon and try out some different adventures and immerse myself once again in the world of VR Dog.

Price: $29.95 for 1-hour of gameplay.

Hours: 2-9 p.m.

Unique feature: Over 40 virtual reality games available to play


75 Rte 4 East, River Edge, NJ 07661

Website: www.vrdog.com

Zachary Greenberg is a health and benefits consultant analyst at Mercer, as well as the TABC track coach. In 2021, he interviewed famous YouTuber Ryan George, who hosts the hit series “Pitch Meetings.” The full interview can be found on Zachary’s YouTube channel. Zachary recently watched the blockbuster movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” in theaters.

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