CAB hosts virtual reality experience for students

Junior Bailey Bean of Russell Ct. participates in the Virtual Reality event hosted by the Campus Activities Board in DSU on Monday, Sept. 18. The game allows participants to feel as though they are experiencing what they are seeing, whether it be jumping off of buildings or swimming though the ocean. “I don’t know why I did it because I’m afraid of heights” laughs Bean.

Emily DeLetter

The WKU Campus Activities Board hosted a virtual reality event on Monday in the lobby of Downing Student Union.

The event, free to all WKU students with an ID, offered several different virtual reality scenarios to experience.

The Campus Activities Board Late Night and Novelty subcommittee was in charge of planning the event. Vice President of Member Relations Tyra Chatman said they chose to have virtual reality in DSU because of the large amount of student traffic passing through the area.

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“We wanted to do something different, something interactive,” Chatman said. “People who are coming by are really interested and excited about what’s going on.”

The virtual reality experience was provided by a company called Kramer Entertainment, Inc., an international entertainment event company based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kramer sends “tour managers” around the country, many to college campuses, to set up entertainment and educational programs.

The virtual reality machines Kramer brought to WKU are called the Emotion Matrix, a virtual reality program using motion platforms and an Oculus Rift headset to place the viewer into the world.

“The glasses give you a 360-degree view in the virtual reality, along with the moving platforms you’re on,” tour manager Chris Coble said. “It tricks your brain into thinking you’re actually there experiencing those scenarios.”

Coble said he wasn’t sure of the exact cost for each virtual reality machine, but estimated them to be around $35,000.

WKU students had the opportunity to choose from a variety of scenarios, including rollercoasters, floating in the ocean, zombie scenes and giant swings.

Louisville junior Asia Brown chose to experience the Mind Beast Rollercoaster. Brown said she choose the ride because she had never tried anything like this before, and was amazed by how realistic it was.

“It was scary,” Brown said. “I screamed, I ducked and I could see stuff coming at me. It was fun, but I was really spooked.”

Planning for the event started during the spring 2016 semester, when the Campus Activities Board met Kramer through a conference.

“We got to try it ourselves, and experience firsthand what it was like,” Campus Activities Board Special Events co-chair Lyndsey Bass said. “We knew it would be the type of event that a lot of students would enjoy.”.

Bass said around 150 people showed up to try out the virtual reality, approximately the number they expected.

“After the interest we’ve had today, it’s an event we can look into doing again,” Bass said. “There were a lot of kids who couldn’t make it because of class, and we want to give them the opportunity to try it for themselves.”

Louisville freshman Trent Wilcox was waiting in line to experience another scenario, after initially trying the ‘funny rollercoaster.’ He said he felt like he was going through the rollercoaster, instead of actually standing in one place.

“It was overwhelming,” Wilcox said. “I could feel the speed, and it was nerve-wracking but also funny, especially after I almost got hit by a Pterodactyl.”

Reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].