Getting Lost in the Game
ARC-Studios Brings VEX to Life in U.S.
The Vex Arena just made its stateside debut at IAAPA, and the location-based entertainment industry is undoubtedly abuzz about the attraction.
Officially launched at IAAPA Expo Europe in September by the Belgian developers VEX Solutions, the new arena (plus the Vex Adventure platform) is brought to the United States by ARC-Studios, the Florida-based company that manufactures and distributes it.
“We’re one of the only VR attractions that comes from overseas, but we actually acquire all the parts here, put it together and offer full support,” said Lathan Gareiss, owner of ARC-Studios, which also custom fabricates laser tag arenas, escape rooms and other themed environments.
Vex Arena is a free-roam, scalable attraction, meaning it can be as small as 4×4 meters – which is a 4-player setup at roughly 172 sq. ft. – or larger if an operator wants to accommodate more players. They offer sizes to fit 6-player, 10-player and 12-player systems. Right now, there are four different ways to play. It’s basically one game with different modules. “Kind of like Fortnite in all the different ways you can play it.”
Essentially, same characters, different maps and gameplay. There’s Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Battle Royale and Archery, all developed by VEX.
Vex Adventure, which made its debut at IAAPA Europe 2018, is the company’s other turnkey, small footprint attraction. It’s free roam, too, but uses backpacks. It also includes environmental and physical haptics and full-body tracking.
There are four VEX-developed games (two 15-minute games and two 30-minute games) called Mission Z, Rush Z, Temple Quest and Temple Party. The other is currently their only third-party game, Eclipse, a 45-minute escape room/VR hybrid experience made by Backlight Studio.
“Every one of our games has an escape room game puzzle-style to it,” he explained. “You can play it multiple times and go in a different direction. It’s comparable to The VOID, but at a fraction of the cost and space,” he said.
VEX will be developing at least one new game a year for both of its attractions. That’ll be in addition to upgrading modules on the existing games, and continuing work with third-party developers on more games as well.
“With these long games, you really get immersed in it,” Gareiss said. Plus, he noted, it’s easy to use for operators. The software is fully automated, and if there are issues, the operator gets a notice and a visual solution to reset the problems.
“Player immersion, small footprint and simple operation – three of the key components to a virtual reality attraction in an LBE facility,” Gareiss declared. VEX Solutions, with distributor ARC-Studios, thinks it brings the best of all worlds into its products.