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Dartmouth haunted house offer virtual scream-ality 

Waypoint Gamery put a high-tech spin on traditional Halloween attraction.

click to enlarge One of the “Hospital of Horror” tour guests gets plugged into fear. - CHRIS MUISE
  • One of the “Hospital of Horror” tour guests gets plugged into fear.
  • Chris Muise

A group of entrepreneurs is bringing a new dimension of terror to the traditional haunted house experience this month at Mic Mac Mall.

The folks behind Waypoint Gamery—an up-and-coming mirth merchant hoping to dabble in board games, escape rooms and virtual reality rentals—is doing some spooky market outreach with an installation at the Dartmouth mall called “Hospital of Horror.”

“We’re doing a pop-up, trying to build some awareness for our business. Raise a bit of capital, get some experience,” says Jamie Ryder, Waypoint’s general manager, who sees this as an opportunity for the company “to get our feet wet. We’re all entrepreneurs…but [we’re familiar with] nothing in this wheelhouse. So this is new for us, and we wanted to try something out.”

The game, created by a team out of the University of Alberta called vrCAVE, is a new spin on the classic haunted house experience.

“You get transported back to an abandoned hospital in the 1940s,” says Ryder. “What’s unique about this experience is that it’s a two-person virtual reality experience. Most VR these days, you can’t be in the same room with a person unless you’re over the Internet.”

Participants strap on the usual visor and hand controls, but also a portable PC, worn like a proverbial proton pack.

“I had no idea what I really entered,” says Mary Bryant, who won a free tour of the hospital for her and her friend Anita Donovan. “It’s very realistic. At the end, you have to walk a plank and I couldn’t do it. You feel it.”

Ryder says that the experience, while vivid, isn’t as frightening as some people might fear. Anyone 10 and up won’t find the tour too terrifying—though he says he saw a few “badass” seven-year-olds blaze through it, leaving their frightened parents in the dust.

The Hospital of Horror runs at Mic Mac Mall through to the end of the month, culminating on October 31. If you want to set up a tour time, or inquire about a mobile VR service, visit waypointgamery.com or Hospital of Horror Dartmouth on Facebook.

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