A new portal to a world of fun and adventure just opened in Tukwila. It’s called Reality’s Edge. Everything about this virtual reality experience is mysterious. Most people will walk by and not even notice that the portal is there. But it’s there all right—and just wait till you see what’s inside!
Reality’s Edge can be found at the Seattle Exchange compound in unit #671 under the business name Ong Innovations. The unassuming and stark office area serves as just a front for the wonders that lie beyond the back door. You see, once you go past that back door and enter the large white room, you’ll be leaving the world as you know it. Or at least when you put on your special virtual reality goggles you will.
While the concept of virtual reality isn’t exactly new, two Seattle dads, Sean Ong and Joshua Phillips, are on a mission to create the next level of entertainment that is both family-friendly and affordable. And frankly, during these COVID times, it is a great, safe place to bring the kids.
A Different Dimension
“Reality's Edge is a fun place for friends and family to experience virtual reality together,” says Sean. “We aim to lower the barriers to virtual experiences and bring family fun and forward-thinking education experiences to the masses.” Sean and Joshua have big plans for Reality’s Edge, but right now they are starting out small with virtual laser tag sessions for group sizes of two to five players. We got a chance to check it out, and it’s a win in our book. It’s laser tag as you know it, but in a different dimension.
Create Your Reality
Once the cordless goggles get put on, you’ll find yourself in a different landscape. It may be out in space or in a lush jungle. Turn around slightly and you might be surprised that you’re not alone. Five creatures, both human and inhuman, stand at the ready for a chance to serve as your avatar. This is how the other players will see you. From there, you play the game just as you would a physical game. You shoot lasers at the other players. If you get shot, you’ll retreat to the specially marked areas to recharge and then you go at it again. Special bonus features hang within reach, making you a force to be reckoned with.
Playing it Safe
As a parent, you may be wondering how is all of this safe? This is part of the experience that we really like. All of the equipment is cleaned and is sanitized after every session. During the games, each player has sort of a six-foot bubble around them while they play. If a player gets too close to another player, a warning flashes helping everyone to maintain safe social distancing practices.
During the games, players have to navigate around different virtual obstacles, but the physical walls of the room are very real. Run into one of them and you’ll be in a lot of hurt. Fortunately, the game puts up a barrier about two feet away from the actual walls to keep players from bumping their heads. Adults and older kids will pick up the technology right away, but even little ones (about five years old or so) will be able to understand how to play rather quickly. And being dads themselves, both Sean and Joshua know how to speak “kid” which is helpful getting young ones comfortable with this new experience.
The Next Chapter
This is just the beginning for Reality’s Edge. The owners hope to expand to offer other experiences like Winter Wonderland and a Virtual Science Museum (We got a preview of this and it will be really cool!). For now though, the place is open by appointment Monday-Saturday. Each half-hour session is $35 for up to five people during the week and $60 on Saturdays.
Want to do something totally different for a birthday or special event? They offer that too. Party packages are just $250 for 90 minutes, including an hour of VR time and 30 minutes for cake and refreshments. In fact, these guys are super flexible, so if you've got an idea, they will work with you.
Hours: Mon.-Sat., by appointment
Cost: $35/session, Mon.-Fri.; $60/session, Sat.
Ages: 5 & up
671 Strander Blvd.
Tukwila, WA 98188
—Jeff Totey, all photos courtesy Reality’s Edge