Landmark Entertainment Group are one of the leading organisations in the out of home entertainment industry, having been instrumental in devising over 100 ‘major’ attractions worldwide since 1980. Now, they’re leveraging that experience to create a new virtual reality theme park people can enjoy from the comfort of their homes, the new project is to debut as the ‘Virtual World’s Fair’.
We’ve already seen an interesting tangent of out of home entertainment leveraging immersive technologies into a destination-based experience over the last few years, with projects like The Void, VRCade and Zero Latency offering high quality virtual reality experiences people enjoy at dedicated centres. But in some ways, this is counter-intuitive to virtual reality’s true promise, being able to recreate anything, anywhere – ideally in the comfort of your own home.
Landmark Entertainment Group is now utilising it’s 35 years of experience in building destination entertainment centres (theme parks) to build a new kind of virtual destination – a theme park you can visit without ever leaving your home. The ‘Virtual World’s Fair’ is to be an experience “loaded with real-time social interaction, entertainment, education, and shopping, just like a traditional world’s fair”, the difference is, no queues, no driving and no hassle. That’s the theory at least.
Virtual World’s Fair is the overarching project, but it includes the Pavilion of Me, a “daily-use in-home entertainment portal that re-imagines everyday activities” – which aims to implement TV watching, video chat and playing video games, among others, into one VR destination you can enjoy via your VR headset. The POM will be launched next year and will act as a gateway to the virtual reality theme park.
The Virtual World’s Fair will launch in 2017 and will allow new users to create and personalise avatars on entry, allowing them to “journey into the Virtual World’s Fair embodied in their newly customized digital persona,”. Social interaction will be key to the experience, allowing people to join with and share in experiences within the theme park.
“Virtual World’s Fair is a concept we’ve been developing for the past 12 months,” said Tony Christopher, President & CEO of Landmark Entertainment Group. “We used our expertise in the theme park and live entertainment space to create a virtual destination for all ages. This is a place where you’ll spend from moments to hours each time you visit, and return to repeatedly, either solo or with your friends and family in tow, just as you would a real-world theme park. It will be the greatest never-ending show on Earth.”
The theme park, in line with its more traditional, physical counterparts, will offer several themed ‘lands':
‘Intencity’ – will showcase some of the world’s greatest advancements in technology, design and art through pavilions and exhibitions hosted by major brands, countries and organizations
‘Dataland’ – is a child’s first virtual reality experience, an entertainment and education wonderland for children
‘Passportal’ – is where the world is just a virtual step away; users can experience virtual travel to exotic destinations and international events such as national parks and monuments, capital cities, concerts, international festivals and holiday festivities
‘The Tower of Humanity’ – is a celebration of the world we live in, and where the world’s biggest and most important issues are experienced, empathized with, debated and acted upon by global citizens
Communications – where users will be able to browse the Internet, utilize popular social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Instagram in a virtual reality setting
Memories – a space to view photos and videos as an entertaining, immersive experience
Entertainment – a place where users can listen to music, watch movies and TV from their hard drives or from services such as Hulu, Netflix or Amazon and play video games, alone or with friends
P.O.M. lounge – where users can customize their own personal space, invite their friends to chat, hangout
Shopping – where users can enjoy a more immersive online shopping experience in VR
Landmark however are well aware that VR is a fledgling technology, yet to prove itself in the commercial world. “Among the concerns was the limited amount of virtual reality content available to warrant the purchase of a headset, as well as the social and psychological impact of isolationist experiences, which thus far have been the only option.” Landmark however believes that their POM platform provides an attractive proposition to people, “The volume, variety and imaginativeness of the experiences will draw in users for repeat visits to experience new attractions, to learn and to interact with other users just as they would in a traditional theme park or traditional world’s fair.”
It’s an interesting project and one which is, quite bravely, charting new territory in VR whilst attempting to deliver a compelling entertainment portal with all the trappings. It’s a pretty big challenge, and we’ll only know if it works once POM becomes available sometime next year.