23 July 2020

Metaphysica: The virtual reality escape room everyone should try

| Sharon Kelley
Shannon Pickles standing in Metaphysica premises.

Shannon Pickles says gamers love the virtual reality experience at Metaphysica in Mitchell. Photo: Sharon Kelley.

Lighting Rock is a software development studio using virtual reality to provide all kinds of experiences to people in Canberra, from helping physics students visualise and manipulate magnetic and electronic fields, to creating virtual environments in which students can pour a concrete slab and see the consequences of not pouring the correct way.

The studio’s Metaphysica virtual reality gaming space at 30 Kemble Court in Mitchell is another project its engineers have worked on and it is taking Canberra by storm.

Metaphysica is a virtual reality escape room, where contestants enter an empty padded room, don virtual reality headsets and are fully immersed inside the game experience.

“Gamers love it, but it’s good for everyone,” says Lighting Rock’s Shannon Pickles. “We don’t have anything scary; it’s suitable for all ages and you get to experience an entire virtual world, whether or not you want to do the puzzles and solve the escape room.

“The experience of virtual reality can amaze people and they never get around to solving puzzles. They just wander around for the experience of it, particularly people who haven’t tried it before.

“But other people go in as a team and solve the puzzles. The good thing is we don’t have to rebuild the room physically to change the puzzles – we just change the software.”

Image of virtual reality game Huxley: Save the Future.

Huxley: Save the Future is one of the virtual reality escape room experiences at Metaphysica. Image: Supplied.

Lightning Rock is currently using software from a European partner – Huxley and Huxley 2 – but is moving to make the virtual escape rooms its own, and is currently designing its own software to change the experience.

Customers can play either game, and once entered into the specially designed physical room, surround sound and virtual reality headsets transport them to a fictional world, which is graphically beautiful and has many aspects to explore.

“It’s great,” says Shannon, “We can sit at the desk and play with the software, meaning only one person will see a crucial element while others won’t. We can play with physics, challenge perceptions, we can make the virtual world do anything. It has so many applications.”

The Metaphysica experience is also COVID-19 safe, says Shannon. Headsets and controllers are meticulously cleaned with ultraviolet light sanitisers before and after each use, and the company has placed its COVID-19 policy and practice prominently on the Metaphysica website. Customers will not need to touch anything but the sanitised headsets and controllers.

Image of person playing Huxley virtual reality game.

Playing Huxley is an experience you’ll never forget. Image: Supplied.

The headsets are light and there’s no need for microphones because you are speaking to your own team inside the same room. There are no backpacks, just the headset and a game controller. Surround sound inside the game room completes the virtual world. Each room is air-conditioned to keep temperatures comfortable.

Metaphysica is open from 10 am to 11 pm, with the average customer taking around 45 minutes to an hour to complete the game.

Groups are limited to three people per room. Customers should be above the age of 10, and at least 110cm tall. Two groups of three can play simultaneously in a team challenge, and Metaphysica is currently developing new technology that will allow groups of up to four people per room – eight for team challenges – within the next few weeks.

You can make an online booking at Metaphysica, or call Shannon on 0414 944 934. Gift certificates are also available from the Metaphysica website.

Original Article published by Sharon Kelley on The RiotACT.

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