Virtual reality venues provide welcome escape in China

China 24

It’s a way to escape the world around you — and enter a new one. For that reason, virtual reality has become quite popular in China.

Plenty of places are popping up to provide that VR experience.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo explains.

On a spring day in Shanghai, Chen Jiuxiao is doing slaloms down a ski slope. It’s all thanks to a virtual reality café.

“Often when you watch the news or check your phone you will see lots of reports about it,” said Chen.  “Actually in Shanghai there are lots of shopping malls starting to do this kind of VR arcade.”

Word of mouth piqued her curiosity about the VR arcade. She’s not the only one.

According to a joint report by I-Research Consulting Group and Greenlight Insights, there were about three-thousand VR arcades in 2016 in China.

That number is expected to grow 13-fold by 2021. Virtual reality isn’t just showing up in arcades but in movie theaters.

In one VR cinema in Beijing, the chairs all have built-in VR headsets to help create that individualized, personal touch.

“The seats can spin. This function allows the audience to turn around to see places that they could not see before,” explains Liu Bingjian of Supersonic Film Technology Limited Co.  “For example, we turn around, but there is an angle. When I turn to the side, I cannot see what’s behind me. The spinning seats allow us to see.”

“Quite dreamlike,” describes another VR arcade fan.  “Many dinosaurs came alive. It seemed like I could touch them, and they stayed next to me.”

According to advisory firm Price-Waterhouse-Coopers, revenue from VR content could reach more than $3.5 billion.

What could help push those numbers, even more, is the expected adoption of 5G networks and the government’s push to drive China to develop cutting-edge technologies like VR.

There’s even talk of establishing a college focused on using virtual reality in the classroom.

The VR industry still suffers from snags.

When it comes to gaming, customers cite the lack of quality options and the relatively high cost of arcade play.

“For two people, it’s more than 40 U.S. dollars so I think the price is quite high,” said Qin Yujia, a VR arcade fan.

That could change as the VR industry in China evolves, as it aims to make its dominance in the world market a reality.

Ying Ying Lu discusses the popularity of virtual reality in China

CGTN’s Sean Callebs spoke with Ying Ying Lu, co-Host of TechBuzz China Podcast by Pandaily, about the popularity of virtual reality in China.