Let the VR Winter Games Begin!

Virtual Athletics League will host the annual Virtual Reality Winter Games and provide an opportunity for the VR community to enjoy an action-packed month of fun.

From February 26 through March 20, VAL will present an array of challenges, tournaments, and giveaways during the Winter Games. This is VAL’s fourth big event of this nature and the format enables individuals to pick and choose which events they want to participate in with the possibility of winning some prizes still on the table. Considering busy schedules and diverse preferences of the VR community, flexibility is an appealing aspect of VAL events.

Founded on the idea that VR esports is a social and technological revolution, VAL has successfully put a lot of effort into VR tournaments that provide a platform to successfully market VR game developers and their titles.

With the arrival of the standalone Oculus Quest in May 2019 and then particularly the Quest 2 in October 2020, average consumers began to realize the wellness benefits of strapping on the headsets in the comfort of their own homes. VALVR events have brought greater awareness to the use of immersive tech for health and fitness through events such as the VR Fitness Summit.

VR Winter Games 2022

During the VR Winter Games, participants and creators have opportunities to win cash prizes, Oculus Quest 2 headsets, and store credit to the VAL-owned VR game store, One Arena.

The full list of participating titles includes some easily-recognizable titles and others that are more recently beginning to attract the attention of the VR community:

Throughout the events, the VR Winter Games will feature over 30 content creators from YouTube, Twitch and TikTok in creator talent contests and other challenges.

Speakers and Panels

Starting March 4 at 2:30 pm PST, Virtual Athletics League will host a series of speakers and panels as part of the Winter Games.

Sessions will feature developers from multiple small and large VR studios who will discuss topics regarding motion sickness in VR, the next evolution in rhythm games, and VR fitness. Community and developers will have an opportunity to connect during these sessions through question and answer during the live stream events.

Panels will be broadcast across the VALVR esports YouTube channel and they’ll be accessible following the Winter Games for continued engagement and to serve as a resource for the community.

Additional information about the games and individual competitions, as well as dates, registration information, and a link to the community Discord can be found at One Arena.

Christine Whyte Shares Her Story of Weight Loss Through FitXR


During the Covid lockdowns, Christine Whyte dealt with stress by turning to food for comfort and since she had never enjoyed exercise, her weight reached an unhealthy level. Like many others throughout 2020-2021, Whyte decided to try an alternative option for fitness and she discovered a path to better health through immersive reality.

Some of Whyte’s unhealthy weight gain began in 2016 when she lost her grandmother. This was before most of us had heard of virtual reality and a pandemic was typically something we thought of in reference to the 1918 influenza or sci-fi apocalypse movies.

Upon her grandmother’s death, she inherited her recipes, which she then baked and ate daily as a way to cope with the grief of losing her loved one. The West Yorkshire resident also has a sedentary, desk-based job in the United Kingdom that compounded the issue.

In 2020 when the global population began coming to terms with sickness and lockdowns, Whyte was dealing with a recent diagnosis of asthma, worries about her job at a time when many businesses began to furlough, and stress over a family issue. She once again turned to food and by December 2020 she weighed 215 pounds.

Rugby player Konrad Hurrell pauses for a picture with Christine in January 2020 at a match to raise awareness of MND and support Rob Burrow, an ex-Rhino player suffering with the disease.

Just before Christmas that year, Whyte had joined a weight loss support group on Facebook set up by UK comedian Jason Manford to focus on the struggles of diet and exercise. After reading a post by a woman who had lost weight through a virtual reality boxercise class, Whyte ordered an Oculus Quest 2 under the guise of it being a present for her three teenagers.

“On Boxing Day 2020, I downloaded FitXR and I have been absolutely hooked from then onwards,” states Whyte, who adds that there have only been a handful of days since then when she hasn’t used her Quest. “I found myself using it so much that my kids got bored of chasing me off it that I bought myself another headset in February.”

Through a combination of calorie counting and working out on FitXR for at least an hour each day, Whyte has dropped an astonishing amount of weight. She has gone from 215 pounds to 141 pounds and the 39-year-old mother has also shrunk from a UK size 22-24 to a size 8-10 with well-toned arms and legs. Although her weight loss has tapered off, she’s proud of the slimmer, healthier version of her body.

Christine Whyte has a new physique in fall 2021 thanks to her hard work in VR!

Prior to VR, Whyte’s hobbies consisted of crafty, artsy projects and she also enjoyed sewing. She avoided exercise in general and since she’s also an introvert, the thought of exercising in public was unappealing.

“I had an irrational fear of being judged by others,” she explains, “so if I were to break a sweat in public or appear out of breath, I would be mortified that people were secretly laughing or passing comment on the sweaty chubby girl.”

While she used to give her kids pocket money to walk the dog, now she enjoys being outdoors more with her French bulldog or walking to the city center for shopping trips versus ordering online to avoid exercise.

“My health and energy levels are the highest I’ve ever known thanks to using FitXR,” states Whyte. “Instead of making excuses not to move, I find myself making excuses why I can’t sit down and it’s all benefitting my health as I now no longer use my blue inhaler which was the one I reached for around 10-15 times a day.”

Whyte says one of the things she loves most about working out in virtual reality is the fact that she can do it in the privacy of her own home. She says she never would’ve joined a gym, but the Quest gives her the ability to squeeze in a class or two between calls and the quick sessions are a healthy alternative to eating an unhealthy snack or zoning out watching television during the same breaks.

“I think the reason I love this app [FitXR] so much is that I don’t see it as exercise, although it is exercise,” says Whyte. “I never associated exercise and working up a sweat with having fun and being so enjoyable, but I now stand corrected.”

Christine works out daily with her Oculus Quest 2.

Some of the things Whyte enjoys about FitXR include the DLC packs and variety of content. Although she initially wasn’t a fan of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), she has now embraced this as part of her training routine.

Like many people who grew up in the 80s and 90s, when Whyte thought of exercise or health and fitness, she had visions of treadmills or exercise bikes that were retired to the shed after a couple of weeks and never seen again. When she first purchased the Quest she had no idea how much it would impact her life, but she was willing to take the chance and now she encourages others to buy a Quest for themselves or download FitXR on headsets that were purchased for their children.

“This form of exercise was completely new to me,” says Whyte, adding that she “couldn’t be more impressed with the results. Virtual reality fitness really is the future, and I am so pleased I stumbled across it. It really has changed my life!”

PvP Dueling in VR: An In-Depth Look at Resolution Games’ Blaston

In one of the trailer parks where I lived as a child, there was an acre-sized wooded area that was a fantastic place to build forts and play war games. It was basically a small loblolly pine forest with trees over 100 feet tall and pinecones that scattered the ground year round. Although the main function of these pinecones, which were several inches long, was to keep the trees’ seeds safe until it was time to germinate, our imaginations quickly turned nature’s little reproductive vessels into grenades.

One of my favorite games was collecting all the grenades (i.e. pinecones) in my fort and then hiding there until an enemy tried to invade my space. Usually the enemy was my younger brother and he’d take cover next to his own hoard of imaginary explosive weapons.

Pinecones aren’t exactly the easiest thing to throw because they’re relatively lightweight so it’s difficult to impose much force. Also, it’s not like they really hurt that much unless they hit you in the face, but regardless of the location of impact, it was understood that a direct hit meant you were injured or dead. Occasionally we’d find some cardboard boxes to use as shields or we’d throw sticks at each other when we ran out of pinecones.

These days I play with imaginary weapons, explosives, and shields in immersive reality. Some games, like One Hamsa’s Racket: Nx or Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena, are incredibly fast-paced physical sport games, while others require a bit more strategy, patience, and stealth.

Resolution Games’ Blaston reminds me of the pinecone wars we had in the trailer park.

Bullets are delivered in slow motion, almost like trying to lob those pinecones, but there’s still challenge involved as Blaston combines the old-fashioned concept of dueling with modern immersive technology in a unique, fun VR game. The game requires stealth and patience as well as movement and quick responses.

About Blaston

Released October 8, 2020, Blaston has been around for over a year and the playerbase continues to grow thanks to active involvement from the developers and early Blaston adopters. It’s a polished game that has an overall “very positive” rating on Steam and an 83% five-star rating on the Oculus app.

Oculus Store describes Blaston as a Matrix-like experience where you’ll “duck, dodge and weave like Neo” in the “competitive slow-motion bullet-hell.” Features include:

  • Ability to duel players in real-time from around the world
  • Collect weapons of increasing depth as you level up
  • Ability to create your own strategic weapon loadout
  • Ozo Lounge – A social area where you can hang out, play arcade games, fist-bump to start a friendly duel, play darts & take photos that can be uploaded to the community Discord server.

One of my favorite aspects of Blaston is the virtual audience on each side of the dueling area. Their subtle movements and appropriate responsive sounds are appealing and the virtual audience presence adds a great vibe to the atmosphere. Resolution Games dev team has done a fine job with the character models, artwork and color combinations for this game.

In addition to the traditional immersive experience, players with a bHaptics suit can also experience haptic feedback on the Oculus version of Blaston.

Interview with Mathieu Castelli

Several weeks ago Mathieu Castelli, Resolution Games’ chief creative officer, took time out of his busy schedule to chat with me about inspiration for Blaston, the negative community reaction to the possibility of ads, and more. Check out this interview for some insider information about Blaston!

Game Updates

Regular updates including “Crackdown” (June 21, 2021) and “Quick Draw” (Sept. 30, 2021) have received incredibly positive response.

The Quick Draw update is a seasonal mode featuring an old-fashioned showdown in the dusty land of the Greatstone Valley and players have only the “Deadringer” (basically a revolver) to defend themselves. Normal dueling mode offers a variety of weapons, but in this mode it all comes down to the quickest draw in an immersive environment modeled after the wild west.

The Blaston Arctic Blast update coming December 9 will feature a new weapon and chilly-looking character for the winter seasonal mode. Resolution Games has a lot of cool updates planned for the future, but this one will be available very soon!


There’s an established competitive scene for Blaston supported by the community and developers. Held most weekends, events feature particular challenges and prizes such as special skins. There have also been cash prizes, bHaptics suits, and subscriptions to VR Trend magazine.

In addition to dev-sponsored tournaments and Blastzone Challenge events on the weekends, the community hosts Blaston Fight Nights, a weekly community VR gaming competition.

Keep an eye on Blaston social media as well as the tournaments and events channel of the Blaston Discord server for more information about upcoming events.

Connect with the Community

Inevitably when I’m reviewing games there comes a time when I have a question that requires me to reach out on social media, typically a community Discord server. The tone of responses can often indicate the atmosphere of a particular community and it’s always nice to encounter pleasant discussion and helpful players or devs willing to answer questions.

On the Blaston Discord server, replies from both players and developers have been helpful and polite. Currently there are 3,750 members in the server and it’s incredibly active, which indicates an expectation of continued growth of the playerbase and fellow dueling enthusiasts.

Community members also put effort into attracting new players by talking about the game, streaming, and creating YouTube videos. Check out some of the most active Blaston content creators:

As always, we recommend that players also connect with community members through their preferred social media platform. Ask questions, share your stories, and post screenshots of your Blaston experiences. Official Blaston social media links:

Seated Accessibility

I play seated and for this review I’ve played several times over the past year on an Oculus Quest 2. Recently my avatar has been too close to the podium and despite resetting the floor level numerous times, I couldn’t adjust the height. The devs are looking into this, but think it might be an issue with my Quest rather than with the game. Either way, I mention it because there’s an easy fix.

FaintBeep, a player on the community Discord, suggested that I try the “raise view” option in Quest Experimental Settings. Once I toggled that on, it fixed the issue immediately so I’d definitely recommend this easy fix if other seated players are struggling with being too low on the podium!

What’s Next

Resolution Games has a history of developing well-made experiences such as Demeo, Cook-0ut: A Sandwich Tale, and Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs. Fans of Blaston and other Resolution Games experiences might also enjoy Ultimechs, coming in 2022.

Players will compete for glory as giant mechs that require speed and precision as they attempt to disarm and defeat their enemies with rocketry in an immersive sport arena.

Where to Purchase Blaston

Blaston is $9.99 and is available on PCVR as well as the standalone Oculus Quest 2 headset.

Black Box VR Gym Members Lift 1 Billion Pounds In Virtual Reality

The Black Box VR community has lifted one billion pounds collectively in their virtual reality workout experience.

Yes, you can you actually lift weights in virtual reality? It’s possible at the Black Box VR gym.

Black Box VR combines real strength training and high-intensity cardio with an addictive esports-style video game to help people gain muscle, lose fat, and completely level up their real-life fitness. It’s the first and only experience of its kind, created by fitness industry veterans, exercise scientists, and expert game designers.


Black Box VR 1 billion pounds infographicThe member that lifted the one billionth pound won an Oculus Quest 2!  Long-time Black Box VR athlete Jack Barrett took home the prize.

Black Box VR member

Black Box VR is a gym with training centers located in San Francisco, Phoenix, Oceanside, and Boise. Just like a regular gym, clients subscribe to a monthly membership that gives them access to the workout experience.

At the gyms there are private workout booths, each with their custom resistance machine inside. The exercise machine provides the strength training capabilities and is integrated into the virtual reality environment.

Black Box VR chest press

Members can quickly schedule their workouts in the Black Box VR companion app. The booth is reserved for them. When it’s time to start, they simply put on the VR headset and begin the game.

The esports-style game is a mix of an RPG and castle defense. Each workout lasts 30 minutes. To attack and defend, players do exercises like chest press, deadlift, and squats to fire their weapons. Players can also summon Champions to fight for them by doing a slicing and punching cardio pattern. Every exercise and Champion has a different set of abilities, making it critical to use strategy to overcome the NPC competitor.

Black Box VR gameplay screenshot

The exercise machine automatically tracks every part of their workout and uses that data to choose the appropriate weight for each exercise. Personalized charts and stats are delivered via the companion app.

To learn more about Black Box VR, check out their site and the member video below.

Social Events Highlight Pop One 1-year Anniversary

Each gaming community has a unique story that includes development, evolution, and overall attitude of individuals and the group as a whole. Shared experiences among players in many of these communities can have tremendous impact on their lives as well as the lives of others. Fortunately some groups such as Population: One E4E are encouraging positive, inclusive environments that focus on social and emotional as well as physical wellbeing of players.

VR games provide plenty of opportunities for fitness at all levels and social interaction within the communities takes place through various venues including in game, through stream chat, on platforms such as Discord or Facebook, in person, etc. Engaging activities typically help playerbase retention and they can be emotionally rewarding as people begin to realize that they are part of a greater community that cares about them.

Papillon DeFer initially tried virtual reality exactly one year ago when Oculus released the Quest 2 on October 13, 2020. She posted a note on her Facebook page about how she had gone into space and then fell on the floor as she looked down at the Earth. She also did some boxing in Survios’ Creed: Rise to Glory, and she became a squirrel.

“Always wondered what it would be like to be a squirrel,” she shared with her friends in a Facebook post.

A couple of weeks later, Papillon tried Population: One and although she initially played only sporadically, her commitment to the game and community increased after she began to develop friendships with other players. Later she founded the Population: One community Events For Everyone (E4E) with a small leadership team that consists of herself, Surjical Gaming, and MusicsAnts.

“I enjoy creating events that bring people together,” she says, adding that she wants to give them a positive place to belong.

Credit: Portrayal of Pop One characters by DirtyMonkee.

Players in the E4E group get together regularly to chat on Discord or Facebook and of course to play in game.

In fact, some of the most creative community events taking place in Population: One are through the E4E group. While quite a few groups focus on the competitive aspect since the game is well-suited to esports, E4E is designed to appeal to all players, including beginners and casual players. There are also supportive groups within the E4E community to encourage players who might be going through a rough time or navigating life as a single parent, for example. These are great examples of how immersive communities can have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Population: One

BigBox VR’s popular battle royale game released on October 22, 2020 and immediately had a relatively large number of VR gamers interested in the game. In fact, within the first three months after launch, the game had captured over $10 million in sales. There have been regular events and updates to the game, with the developers striving to provide an optimal engaging experience for players.

With the support of in-game tools, encouragement through social media, and regular interaction with players, BigBox has shown a genuine interest in the community. In honor of the one-year anniversary and in appreciation of the community, game, and developers, there are a series of events being hosted by E4E and other groups. You’ll find links to the individual groups and events on the Population: One community Discord server and various social media platforms.

Pop One E4E Anniversary Events

On October 23 there will be a series of E4E anniversary events that exemplify how much players appreciate the game and show potential for VR gaming and how communities can be created, nurtured, and thrive. Everyone is welcome to attend and/or view these events.


An international event designed to highlight and promote the inclusivity of Population: One, players from around the globe can take part in the E4E United Nations event.

The following game modes have previously been released in the game and will be used during the United Nations event:  Squads, War, Team Deathmatch, and Legions.

Players can find out more about the event and register to participate in the E4E Discord server in the #united-nations channel.


  • Saturday, October 23
  • Event begins at 8:30 pm BST | 3:30 pm EDT | 12:30 pm PDT

A select group of Population: One All Stars will face off in a 4-round event as they explore previous game modes. The competition will be streamed on various content creator pages and profiles for viewers who are familiar with the game or want to learn more about it.

“LIVE AT KINGDOM” – Live Music Concert

  • Saturday, October 23
  • Event begins at 9:30 pm BST | 4:30 pm EDT | 1:30 pm PDT

This is going to be a spectacular event featuring top streamers and content creators, well-known personalities, and talented musicians from the Population: One community. This is an exclusive E4E event with the potential to raise the bar for how VR gaming communities create and engage in social events.


Throughout the E4E festivities there will be exclusive VIP interviews with some of your favorite Pop One people. Papillon points out that they range from leisure to competitive players, but “you’re guaranteed to have heard of these names!”

Where to Watch

Tune in to JTDubzZ_VR for coverage of E4E events. JT does a lot of casting for Population: One and has been a prominent personality in various events such as the community cup held earlier in the summer.

You can also tune in or stop by to show appreciation to hosts, performers, and streamers/content creators.



Streamers / Content Creators:

Credit: BigBox VR

NEPA to Host Echo Arena LAN Event to Support Special Olympics

National Esport Professional Association announces a charity cup to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics. Featuring Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena, the LAN sporting event will be held at Busch Stadium’s Redbird Club in St. Louis on March 18-20, 2022 and will continue to blaze a trail for professional competitive VR esports and raise awareness of VR platform’s inclusivity for athletes.

With the introduction of headsets such as the Oculus Quest 2, VR gaming has become increasingly popular for fun and fitness. In addition, many games are particularly well-suited to competitive esports and the potential for growth in this area of the industry is huge.

Virtual reality enables a user to be immersed in a game or environment with the sensation of presence that creates a feeling that you’re actually in an arena, on a field, etc. Esports traditionally require teamwork, problem-solving skills, strategic thinking, leadership, etc., but in addition to these skills, since VR requires physicality to move, duck, jump, throw, etc., there’s an athletic component that’s not present in traditional esports.

“The introduction of virtual reality and the associated athleticism required to play many games has really established the ‘sport’ part of esports,” states Tony Cartwright, Founder and CEO of the National Esport Professional Association (NEPA). “Since the early 70s, esports has been associated with playing video games competitively, but with game controllers and keyboards, the term “sport” seemed out of place. When VR launched, there was much more of a physical requirement to play competitively, giving rise to the phrase ‘VR sport.’”

A former Fighter Weapons School graduate in the F-15C who retired from the US Air Force as a Lt. Colonel/Command Pilot in 2016, Cartwright founded NEPA, LLC in April 2021. He then began recruiting professionals familiar with esports and virtual reality, as well as skilled players from the popular VR game Echo Arena, to build the league.

“NEPA was created to develop VR sports into a traditional professional organization,” explains Cartwright. “Where many esport professionals are determined by winning a league or tournament, NEPA is designed to represent the collection of VR sport athletes that train and play at an elite level.”

Echo Arena was the first title selected because it’s truly the first VR game in the digital medium that’s similar to traditional team sports. Launched in June 2017 by Ready At Dawn, a gaming studio that was later purchased by Facebook, Echo Arena has been a flagship in the realm of multiplayer VR games.

Echo Arena requires team strategy, physicality, communication, and teamwork to be successful. What is most interesting about the game is that much like traditional team sports,” says Cartwright, “the only way to get better and compete at a higher level is through practice, both individually and as a team.”

Special Olympics Collaboration

According to Cartwright, the Special Olympics was a natural partner for NEPA’s charity efforts. The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities, providing them with opportunities to compete at an elite level.

In the world of VR, there are no limitations placed on athletes, and immersive environments level the playing field so that anyone with a desire to compete can do so. Since many VR games, including Echo Arena, can be played seated at basically the same level of play as that of a standing player, this creates accessibility that doesn’t usually exist in traditional sports.

Mac Dougan, Assistant Director of Digital Initiatives for Special Olympics Illinois, points out that from the onset of the Special Olympics esports program, they’ve made a conscious effort to make video games more inclusive and the collaboration with NEPA supports that concept through VR gaming.

“Whether it’s for individuals with intellectual disabilities, physical, or no disability at all – gaming should and must be for everyone,” says Dougan. “VR … is incredibly vital to moving that needle forward on inclusivity.”

This man was one of many participating in VR esports competition at PAX West in 2019.

Like most people in society today, Special Olympics athletes would benefit from the physicality required in VR games. Since the Special Olympics encourages physical activity and healthy lifestyles, the idea of VR games greatly appeals to the organization for the potential to improve overall wellness of their athletes.

“The opportunities are endless for Special Olympics and VR games,” states Dougan. “The whole idea of being able to be an active participant in the games that we’re playing is huge.”

He is also eager to see Special Olympics athletes have access to headsets so they can experience other games such as tennis or baseball through the lens of a VR headset.

“Not every athlete will have access to a tennis court, or is able to travel on a constant basis to a practice, but VR can bring that experience right to their living room. That is nothing short of amazing.”

Charity LAN Event

The first annual NEPA Charity Cup will feature an all-pro tournament for the professional Echo Arena teams from NEPA as well as open brackets for any teams that want to register. Individual players can also register and be placed on a team.

  • March 18-20, 2022
  • Redbird Club at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Single player entry fee: $50
  • Prizes will be awarded to finalists and semi-finalists of each bracket.

Register for tickets to the 1st Annual NEPA Charity Cup.

If you’re interested in providing sponsorship for NEPA or the charity cup, please reach out through the NEPA website.

We will continue to post regular updates on VR Fitness Insider and as always, we encourage you to engage with the community as well.

Check out broadcasts of NEPA pro team games on the VR Sports Network (VRSN).


Benefits of VR for Fitness


Physical activity can be an enjoyable experience that enhances one’s life and many people are discovering how to integrate increased activity through VR gaming. Since regular exercise has benefits for physical, mental and emotional health, there are many reasons to put on those headsets and have fun on your wellness journey!

Why Use VR for Fitness?

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults need to move more and sit less. Most of us already know this, but finding the motivation to do so is a different story and many people who would never commit to other types of exercise will put on a headset for a 30-minute gaming experience that reaps similar results to traditional fitness programs.

For substantial health benefits, adults should engage in at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity activity. Preferably this would be spread throughout the week and it should be aerobic, which means your increased heart rate is pumping greater amounts of oxygen to your muscles.

Many VR games provide an equivalent amount of exercise to traditional forms of exercise such as playing tennis or using an elliptical. Even if a person doesn’t have access to necessary equipment or locations where they can participate in physical activities, VR provides them with opportunity to engage in immersive fitness experiences in the comfort of their own homes. This enables them to exercise with only a VR headset and a small amount of space.

Benefits to VR Fitness

Habitual physical activity is associated with numerous health benefits. Among other things, a regular fitness routine:

  • Decreases risk of high blood pressure
  • Decreases risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Promotes increased circulation
  • Helps reduce and manage stress & anxiety
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Improves bone health
  • Keeps joints flexible, increasing range of motion
  • Encourages retention of muscle mass
  • Improves balance and coordination, reducing risk of fall-related injuries

Regular exercise can reduce your risk of declining health by reducing risk factors such as excess body weight and poor circulation. An exercise regimen can help prevent injury by keeping your joints flexible, increasing range of motion, and encouraging retention of muscle mass.

Studies have shown that regular exercise reduces fall-related injuries in older adults. There are most likely several reasons for this, but among other things, exercise encourages balance and coordination.

A fitness routine also improves overall wellbeing by increasing self-esteem and cognitive functioning and some VR games are designed specifically with challenges, motivation and positive feedback. Supernatural is a great example of this with daily workouts, inspirational content, connections with other community members, etc.

VR games combine physicality and technology in such a way that users are engaged with the immersive environment and inclined to play longer, push themselves harder, and develop a regular routine.

No More Excuses

If you want to improve your overall wellness, VR is a great way to infuse more physical activity into your daily routine with minimal adjustment to your lifestyle. Your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing is important so set aside 20-30 minutes a few times each week, find a game you enjoy, and start seeing the benefits of fitness with VR!

Marathrun- Intense VR obstacle courses with friends


In the VR world, there seems to be limitless possibilities of what kind of games you can come up with. Despite this, we unfortunately see the same kind of games being made with little to differentiate between them. Sure, rhythm games are fun, but after the 50th one, they all start to feel the same. Shooters suffer from the same tiresome act as well and it seems like there needs to be a new breed of the genre in the VR world to shake up the established norm. Marathrun is still raw in an Early Access form as of now, but what it does is inject parts of other games that have succeeded before it into one of the most fun and unique experiences I’ve seen in quite some time. Marathrun takes the craziness of among us, the parkour elements of Stride VR, the climbing physics of The Climb 2, the obstacle courses from American Ninja Warrior and toss in a little bit of trap-based chaos from Dark Souls and you’ve got a recipe for what could be a surprise hit.

The Basics

Marathrun gives you the option to get right into the thick of it, but I would recommend a tutorial to start you off. It is here you get introduced to the physics that makes the game tick. There is quite a bit that goes into the piecing together of these random obstacle courses. First off, disappointingly you do not use your arms to run here. I was hoping for a natural locomotion-type system like Blade and Sorcery uses as well as Stride VR, but here I was unable to find that option, but it’s possible it gets implemented on the full release. You are given two hooks that you can remove from your back to use as climbing tools as well as using them in a zipline type of way. There are climbing physics, force physics and momentum physics are at play here and the combination they create makes for an amazing VR experience. You can face up to 5 players in any particular course and when a room is full, you will see the most that this game has to offer as you see your fellow players struggling right alongside you in the course. It’s fun stuff and every game plays out a bit differently depending on who your opponents are.

What it feels like to play?

If you’ve ever seen shows like Wipeout or American Ninja Warrior or MXC, you know just what you’re getting into here. You are pitted against 4 others on an obstacle course right out of one of those shows and though the graphics aren’t that amazing, the vibe of the game is great and the creativity of the levels helps keep each run feeling fresh. It’s not inaccurate to say that this is VR’s answer to Fall Guys and if it’s possible to expand the player limit of 5 right now to something closer to 10 or 15, you might find this game being the next Gorilla Tag VR and based on the popularity of that shock of the year in the gaming world, that isn’t a bad thing. Swinging from bars, climbing frantically, and running from boulders is surprisingly fun and when you have a full game, the action is really intense and something that might’ve been a more laid-back experience becomes a frantic and physical experience that could easily become the next big craze in VR.

What will keep you playing

The focus on multiplayer here means you will be playing Marathrun for a while and considering it’s just in its Early Access phase and already has 5 maps and a decent following on Sidequest, there is a lot to expect from this game going forward. The physical aspect of it makes it so you can incorporate it into a daily workout routine as you will find some of the more tense races will have you working extra hard to finish first. The content isn’t that numerous right now, but the potential is pretty much as good as it gets in the multiplayer VR scene and since there aren’t too many games that look like this one on the market, there is plenty of room for Marathrun to make its mark here.


More so than most VR games, Marathrun will have to move around quite a bit and during the thick of one of the courses, you can easily find yourself losing your place in the room and possibly hurting yourself. Because of this, make sure you have a 5×5 space or larger available to you as I found myself frequently needing a reminder of where I was in the room.

Intensity – 9/10

I recorded my 30-minute workout with a Fitbit and played on an Oculus Quest 2 Headset.

Calories burned: 300
Calories burned per minute: 10
Average Heart Rate: 120
Max Heart Rate: 136
Active Minutes: 27

I didn’t expect Marathrun to have me sore and out of breath after playing it, but during some of the more intense races I experienced, I would find myself not only having to figure out where I’m going to go obstacle wise, but also trying to gauge which would be the fastest path for me to get through physically. Believe it or not, climbing in VR is strenuous and here the story remains the same as having to climb obstacles and use your hooks to latch onto long ladders is a tough task after a few games in a row. Overall, the experience won’t have you panting for breath, but you certainly will be tested physically at times.

Arms- 9/10

Although you aren’t going to be using your arms to run, your arms will play into just about everything else. Climbing, swinging, pushing yourself up onto platforms, all involves your arms here, and believe me when I say you should absolutely be stretching before you get things going here. Climbing using the hooks gave me the most tiring exercise here caused me the most trouble and because of that, I found myself only able to play for a limited amount of time. All of this is fairly difficult to get the hang of though, as the lack of actual wait and solid objects being present makes certain things tough to grasp. Climbing was easy enough, but pushing yourself up from ledges I found to be extremely difficult at times and really hampered my progress when it happened.

Legs- 6/10

Marathrun doesn’t explicitly use your legs much, but because of the constant movement that will be present throughout your time with the game, you can easily incorporate your legs into the proceedings without much hassle. Because of the amount of running involved, I was often jogging in place as I tend to do during most VR games with natural locomotion and this made for a solid leg workout after a while. To add to this, when ducking to jump in-game, I did the same in real life to both stay immersed and keep my legs engaged. I did the same while climbing the ladders too, mimicking where my feet would be not only to keep immersed but also to keep myself from falling off balance here.

Core/Balance- 7/10

If you’ve ever tried rock climbing before, you know that you need a very strong core to be any good at it. Here that fact is true to a lesser degree. You will be reaching and shimmying all over the place while playing Marathrun, so while you aren’t going to get a shredded core during the gameplay, you will feel a solid core workout after playing this one for an hour or so. Balance-wise, you need to be on your game here as you’ll be leaping and falling and jumping so your center of gravity will be fluctuating wildly here. For those who find heights to be a bit of an issue, here you might find some trouble, so take it slow at the start until you can get your bearings.

Time Perception- 8/10

I thought Marathrun did a great job in knowing just what kind of game it wants to be. It doesn’t dance around with tons of modes; it shows you what it’s all about right from the get-go. The races themselves don’t last all that long, so that makes play sessions with Marathrun easy to jump into and out of without any trouble. I found the action here got pretty intense after 30 minutes of playing and I would tire out soon after that. While in-game, the atmosphere is great and feels like a futuristic obstacle course should and when the races start, there is little else that will be on your mind besides how you can finish first.

Fitness Scalability- 8/10

The only way to scale your physical workout here is by figuring out how much you want to put into this experience. Simply put, if you aren’t willing to get into it here and really work your arms during the obstacle courses, you are not going to win. That’s fine for some people, as they might be fine with just the VR experience as is and have little care about who is winning or losing. For the competitive types, the more you put into this physically, the more successful you will be. It’s great when a game rewards hard work and this is one of those games where you will be rewarded for the burn you’ll be feeling after you are done with a lengthy session.

Dizziness/Nausea- 8/10

This category will vary for certain people as the problems with height in VR don’t always affect everyone. It should be noted though that every time you fail here, you will plunge into the pits below and while the fall doesn’t stay too long, the feeling of dropping a great distance might churn the stomach of some VR players. I didn’t find many issues with the action happening here though and despite all the jumping and climbing, things seemed to stay pretty smooth throughout my time with the game. The high speed at which you move throughout the courses though might give some pause, luckily there is a demo to try it out with no risk.

Social Competition- 8/10

Marathrun is looking like one of the most addictive multiplayer titles in the entirety of VR and the small offering at the table right now is just a hint at what the final product might end up looking like, so if you are looking for a unique experience and to compete against 4 other players online in a futuristic obstacle course, there is no better option right now. The problem with a game like this is the player base is going to be what drives the sales and while playing, I had trouble on occasion finding a room and unfortunately in this game, when you don’t have a room to play in, you won’t be able to play it. For the full release, there needs to be some kind of basic campaign mode so that people struggling to find games can actually play the game.

VR Fit Score

Game Score

The Good

Marathrun gives us a glimpse at what could become the new craze in the multiplayer VR world. The combination of physical ability and strategy come together to create a fun and intense race to the finish against other players and each race feels different depending on the skill of who you are playing with. The graphics are fitting for what amounts to a futuristic obstacle course. The physics at play here are as good as they get and whether it is the force physics at work or the climbing physics, the immersion is helped because of it. As far as games of this style go, Marathrun stands alone as the most intriguing and fun to play and there is a lot more to come from this title since it is only in the Early Access stages.

The Bad

If you are unable to get internet or are unable to connect to a game, you are going to be out of luck when it comes to playing this as the only option to play outside the tutorial right now is in multiplayer matches. While I had a ton of fun with the game, there were times when no games were available and it rendered the game effectively useless. As far as content goes, there is not a ton at the time being with only 5 courses available and that is coupled with only one mode as well, so you may want to hold off a bit before diving in here.

Marathrun is available on Sidequest and playable on Oculus Quest 1 and 2.

Editor’s Note:  Marathrun is also available via the Oculus Store App Lab.

Shinobi Breaker- Old School gameplay in a VR World


As we move into the next stage of VR following the amazing Half Life: Alyx, we are expecting the next big thing that can make VR the gaming platform of choice. Unfortunately, the next big thing doesn’t always come often, so in the meantime, we have tons and tons of indie VR projects to keep us busy while the next juggernaut of VR is being made. Today we take a look at Shinobi Breaker, which is just an insane experience that combines rhythm games with a fighting game and the result is a visual onslaught that basically puts you into a game that might’ve come out in 1989. It’s definitely a fun experience though, so let’s take a look at what makes the game tick.

The Basics

Oh, where to even start with this one. Throughout the various levels, you will be doing a mixture of fighting and dodging while equipped with ninja weapons and it’s all done with a truly bizarre visual style that combines cel-shading with some ideas that look like they were ripped out of Minecraft. The gameplay is plain insane. You’ll be using swords, bows, ninja stars and more as you fight against these wild-looking creatures made out of blocks and each one has its own strategy to defeat it. At a glance, seeing what’s happening on screen is pretty indecipherable, but as you complete each level, you will get the hang of everything and you will find yourself being pushed to keep on playing.

What it Feels like to Play

It’s a wild experience playing Shinobi Breaker as it as much a test of your ability to handle the crazy visuals taking place on screen as it is to beat the levels themselves. The gameplay is pretty intense and can be very difficult at times as you need to pay attention to many different things happening on screen at the same time and it is very easy to get overwhelmed. The enemies are very interesting as you’ll see gigantic cube birds, frogs and all sorts of crazy creatures flying at you through space and each one has a different attack pattern, so you need to learn the rhythm in order to beat them. Each one attacks by sending slash patterns at you that you need to slash in the correct directions to defeat them. When it’s rolling on all cylinders, the experience is kind of a VR translation of a very old-school game. There are no worlds to explore here and there is very little variety in the gameplay, for the most part, so you’re really getting an old school experience in VR that is easy to jump into and easy to get addicted to and those types of games still have their place in the current VR landscape.

What will keep you playing?

If you remember how old school games worked, they weren’t built on the appeal of amazing storylines or breathtaking graphics. The main appeal came from the intrigue of what lied beyond in the next level. The mystery of what new creatures await you in the next level and how much tougher will the next challenge be is what will push you to keep playing here and luckily, the levels are fairly short, so you won’t worry too much about needing to spend a lot of time in this one as your play sessions will last exactly as long as you want them to. In addition to this, Shinobi Breaker is a truly insane workout, so you can utilize this as a nice addition to your VR workout.


Shinobi Breaker will have you moving around a lot and whether its ducking and dodging or slashing with your swords like a mad man, you should have a good amount of room available to you when playing this as it can be very easy to get lost in the gameplay and lose your place in the room.

Intensity- 9/10

I recorded my 30-minute workout with Fitbit and played on an Oculus Quest 2 Headset with Airlink.

Calories burned: 161
Calories burned per minute: 5
Average Heart Rate: 90
Max Heart Rate: 129
Active Minutes: 31

Surprisingly, Shinobi Breaker gives you an awesome workout that utilizes every bit of energy you’ve got at times. Trying to get through these levels and the addictive nature of it means you are going to be pushing yourself constantly to see what is coming next. The bosses can be incredibly challenging and when these more elite enemies appear, get ready to sweat as the intergalactic battles are incredibly intense and you will rarely go more than 2 seconds without having to swing your swords or shoot your various weapons. This constant motion mixed with the wild imagery taking place on-screen creates an awesome workout experience that is tracked fully within the game via a calorie counter.

Arms- 9/10

Your arms are going to be on fire by the end of your playthrough sessions with Shinobi Breaker. It’s the constant action on screen that will have you slicing and dicing with your sword at nearly all times and this intensity kicks up a notch for some of the tougher enemies and when the bosses come to play, all bets are off and you are going to work to get your prey. Stretching is absolutely a necessity when playing Shinobi Breaker and there are few VR games that will get your arms involved in the way this game does. To increase the challenge, you might consider adding weights to your wrists so there is more balance with your swings, as I have found having little to no weight resistance led to me almost throwing my arm out at times from the intensity on screen. Depending on the level you are on, sometimes you will be asked to do a time attack, where the enemy will escape quickly if you don’t act fast enough and when this happens, you will be launching your ninja stars by smashing them with the sword like a windmill from hell as you desperately try to erase these enemies from existence before they can escape.

Legs- 7/10

Your legs aren’t directly involved in the gameplay here, but they can be utilized if you want to be. For example, most enemies attack with a pattern of slashes that will try to interrupt your nonstop volley of ninja stars and while you can dice these away fairly easily most of the time, sometimes you will be too engaged with the other activities at hand and might need to just dodge out of the way instead. Considering these attacks come from all different angles, you can definitely duck and jump out of the way if need be, opening the enemies up for an easy counterattack if you time it right.

Core/ Balance- 6/10

There are parts of Shinobi Breaker that can involve your core, but this is all dependant on your body positioning. For example, when activating a power-up for the ninja stars, sometimes you’re going to have to launch them very quickly and for me, I held the ninja stars up like I was serving a tennis ball and I delivered my launches via the sword in the way I would swing a racket, creating a ton of torque each time and heavily engaging my core muscles. This isn’t going to get you a six-pack, but you knew that going in and for what it is, it’s a hell of a time.

Time Perception- 8/10

While I cannot claim to remember what it was like to game back in the early days of gaming with arcades and such, but I can see the early influences shining through here as the gameplay is so simple, yet effective as it pushes you to see what the next boss has in store for you. The levels are pretty short with none of them really exceeding 10 minutes at any time and there is a timer for them letting you know how much time you have left to complete your mission, though I never really needed the time given and felt like most could be completed in around 5 minutes or less if you really know what you are doing.

Replayability- 7/10

There are a decent amount of levels available with Shinobi Breaker and each one offers a unique twist to it. On top of this, you can unlock tons of different bonuses to your arsenal including weapons and tweaks like additional damage done. The catch is you can only take one of them into battle with you, sp each battle could be a bit different depending on what equipment you decide to take with you into battle.

Fitness Scalability- 7/10

The scalability of your workout relies on what kind of player you are going to be. Are you going to be slow and calculated, timing your shots as carefully as possible while avoiding enemy attacks? Or are you going to be a fast-firing maniac slashing at your ninja star launchers like a crazy person, trying to take down the bosses as fast as possible? If you’re the former, you aren’t going to get a huge workout in this game as your movement will be very measured and there won’t be a lot of sweating going on. If you’re like me though, you want to take these enemies down fast and when that happens, you are going to tire yourself out faster than you might expect with a game like this.

Dizziness/ Lack of Nausea- 9/10

Despite the pretty wild visual style that harkens back to the days of Nintendo, the dizziness factor that is always present when we are talking about VR really didn’t seem too present while I was playing and while some of the harder bosses can overwhelm you a bit visually speaking, nothing was ever moving too fast or flashing too bright that I felt sickness of any kind and it was a pretty smooth experience throughout.

Social Competition- 7/10

Although there isn’t a multiplayer mode as of yet, there are leaderboards so you can compare with other players on how fast you completed the levels, how much damage you took, and what bonuses you took in with you all add up to your final score. If this is the type of thing that drives you, you can find yourself playing again and again to top the best players in the world and while it is an old school way to interact with others, it is a nice driving force behind giving a tough level just one more try.

VR Fit Score

Game Score

The Good

Shinobi Breaker is a unique experience that combines elements from many other VR games and puts them in a package that is both bizarre and addictive at the same time. The graphic style is wholly its own and you likely won’t see many games looking like this in VR. The combat is fun and frenetic and requires precision aiming and the recognizing of visual cues to succeed. There are a solid amount of levels to take on, with the later ones making for an especially challenging physical and gameplay experience. You can get a solid workout in here for your arms if you get really into it, and having the flexibility to have a hard workout or an easy one depending on your playstyle is a great thing for a game to have.

The Bad

Shinobi Breaker certainly does not come to you with top-of-the-line visuals or any real VR physics involved, so if you are expecting something that feels like the evolution of gaming as many come to VR to find, you aren’t going to get much out of this experience. The gameplay while fun, is very repetitive and if shooting ninja stars at gigantic block monsters in space doesn’t sound all that appealing to you, then there is little else that will catch your attention here. There is a fitness tracker in the game, but it seems to be pretty random as it seems rather impossible to get an accurate depiction of the calories burned just by success within the level, and despite multiple playstyles throughout, my calories burned number was always pretty similar.

Shinobi Breaker is available for $14.99 on Steam and playable on Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest 1 and 2 headsets.

Akyrikon-VR Game Review – RPG Meets VR Rhythm Games


VR is in need of some invigorating ideas these days. While you can have endless shooters, rhythm games, and sword fighting games, at a certain point these genres can get a little bit stale. VR is somewhat limited in how each game is played because the mechanics of every game aren’t created by some set of systems, but rather you. This makes a lot of VR play out similarly and it no longer becomes the mechanics that driving your experience, but the environments, stories, and graphics that take hold of you. Because of this, sooner or later, those VR games are going to lose a bit of their luster unless something new comes along. Thankfully, something new has come along in the form of Akyrikon. It’s a workout game, a rhythm game AND an RPG all balled into one. It’s a bit rough around the edges at points, but when Akyrikon is firing on all cylinders, it shows that there is far more to VR rhythm games that have been shown up to this point.

The Basics

Akyrikon gives you the choice of taking part in tutorial levels before you dive in or you can go right into the story mode and get started. How it works is each level starts with a little dialogue between a few of the main characters shedding light on what’s going on before you’re tasked with defeating your foes. The story here is light to be generous, but it’s cool that they are at least trying to add a bit of narrative into what can usually be a genre that ends up feeling really repetitive after a while. This isn’t Final Fantasy, but the effort that is there is appreciated. The fights play out in a simple fashion. You punch the various orbs coming at you according to their color like most VR rhythm games and occasionally duck and dodge obstacles. Each time you hit a certain amount of orbs, you launch an attack. If you fail at hitting them, you take damage. Both you and the enemy in the level have a stock amount of hit points. As you get damaged, these points subtract and you fail the mission once they are all gone. To add to the complexity a bit are abilities that you can equip that have different effects from increased health to launching spells like a lightning bolt at your enemy. These are activated by hitting a certain amount of orbs in a row, adding the emphasis on being perfect. You can also use the training mode to just do a normal-style rhythm game with a variety of songs available.

What it feels like to play

Akyrikon won’t be taking the mantle of best VR RPG from Skyrim VR any time soon, but that doesn’t mean it’s quite fun to play. The hook here is that with each level, the enemies get harder, and sometimes, you simply cannot advance past a certain enemy no matter how perfect your round is. When this first happened, I thought this was a serious design flaw as I couldn’t figure out how to get any further. However, I soon found out in order to increase your abilities, you had to go to the training mode in the game. It’s here where you get the more conventional VR rhythm game and through doing these, you actually increase your health as well as your level which allows you to both do more damage and unlock more abilities. This begins the fighting and training back and forth that drives the experience. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but that doesn’t matter as it’s fun as hell and the start of something extremely promising in a genre that definitely needed a refreshing slant to it.

What will keep you playing?

The drive to fight new monsters and progress through the story will definitely keep you coming back in the short term, but in the long term, you’ll keep coming back because of the endless rhythm game you can engage in here. There are a bunch of different environments to train in and things can get challenging awfully quickly here and it quickly becomes one of the more intense VR experiences. So, whether you are fighting monsters or just training to level up, you are going to get a great, full-body workout here.


You should give yourself a good amount of space while playing this as you are going to be moving very quickly while also dodging and ducking obstacles and you can quickly get overwhelmed and lose track of where you are, so don’t have anything in the immediate area that can cause harm to you.

Intensity- 9/10

I recorded my 30 minute workout with Fitbit and played on a Samsung Odyssey Plus Windows Mixed Reality Headset.

Calories burned: 302
Calories burned per minute: 10
Average Heart Rate: 124
Max Heart Rate: 150
Active Minutes: 30

Akyrikon is a hell of a workout that pushes you forth by giving you enemies to fight through and the challenge presented by each one. How long it will hook you is debatable, but the actual gameplay here will leave you breathless and sore after a while. Your entire body will be totally engaged during everything here and the training sessions actually will make you sweat more than the main questline and that goes along with the idea that you are training hard to overcome your enemies.

Arms- 9/10

Like most rhythm games, you are going to be having a pretty arm-centric workout here as the way to do damage against your enemies is by hitting the orbs. I didn’t find the strength of me hitting them to be much of a factor, but when you have a goblin staring you in the face it definitely makes you want to hit that much harder, regardless if the game tracks it or not. In the training, you can amp things up and really get your arms moving fast as some of the difficulties have a rapid-fire style to how the orbs appear and this can get incredibly tiring after a little while, so be ready to stretch before getting into the thick of things here.

Legs- 7/10

Your legs get involved in the action here through the use of obstacles to dodge and duck throughout each level. As the levels get tougher, these obstacles get more frequent and eventually, you will be using a combo of punches and dodging to complete your missions and some of the later ones are incredibly tough to get through and it will likely give you a solid leg workout in the process.

Core/ Balance- 8/10

Your balance during the entirety of your gameplay is as important as anything here as it can get pretty tough to remember your place in the room once things get intense, so make sure you know your place at all times. Your core can get a solid involvement here specifically during the harder training levels as the amount you’ll be keeping low to the ground will be pretty frequent and after a while, this creates a pretty solid burn that you’ll appreciate at the end of your workout.

Time Perception-7/10

While it’s not the most polished title., Akyrikon gives you a really fun and different feeling experience that will push you to get to the next level just to see what’s going to happen with the quirky story going on and what new enemy you will end up facing. The graphics here are modest, so you won’t be getting lost in any visual experience here, but for some short sessions at around 30 minutes each, Akyrikon is a fun diversion and a new kind of experience in the workout game genre that will keep you invested for quite a bit.

Replayability- 7/10

Akyrikon has some interesting ideas at play for sure, but after you finish the campaign, the only real option is to replay missions using newly unlocked abilities or perhaps engaging in the training sessions. The problem with that is this is definitely not the best rhythm game out there. Once you strip away the different enemies that you fight and quirky narration scenes that break up the action, you are left with a VR rhythm game that is definitely raw and doesn’t really stand out amongst the crowd in any defined way. The story mode and the dichotomy of training and fighting is the main pull here, but once that’s over, you’re left with not much else to entertain you and it won’t be too long until you’re onto your next game.

Fitness Scalability- 7/10

This game basically scales with you as you play it, so you won’t ever have to worry about scaling it for your workouts. Depending on the level that you’re at in-game, the battles against the monsters can be incredibly tough or a breeze. If you train a ton before going against the enemies, then you will likely dominate the game. This training though is going to be incredibly tough physically, so you actually feel like you’ve earned your victories after leveling up from it. If you want to just sweat relentlessly without having to deal with much else, then the training modes will keep you plenty busy here, so even those seeking the most intense cardio workouts will have plenty to like here.

Dizziness/ Nausea- 8/10

I noted earlier that this is a bit of a rough experience at this point and that’s definitely true, but it did not affect my experience all that much when it came to VR sickness. You will be moving extremely fast at times during this game, but aside from some choppiness in the action on occasion, the gameplay was never too overwhelming as to make me feel nauseous at all. The highest difficulty training modes are intense too and the only times I felt a little queasy was when I was forced to dodge under constant obstacles behind thrown at me. Other than that, it was pretty smooth sailing.

Social Competition- 0/10

Akyrikon was not designed to support any multiplayer from the looks of it and despite it still being in Early Access, that does not mean this feature is coming any time soon. Perhaps a leaderboard of sorts might appear at some point, but for now, it’s strictly a single-player experience.

VR Fit Score- 7.7/10

Game Score- 7/10

The Good

Akyrikon gives us a glimpse at how the VR rhythm game genre might one day evolve. It has a fun little story mode complete with an actual story and is supported by an entertaining cycle of training and fighting and unlocking abilities. The different environments give the feeling of progression and the training levels are intense and really make you earn your new levels. The ability to use music from the game or music from your own computer is a nice touch and adds a nice amount of customization to the proceedings. You can tweak the difficulty in any way you’d like to make things a bit easier or harder for you depending on how the game is going for you.

The Bad

It is not the longest experience right now, but keep in mind that this is only an Early Access experience and we are anticipating much more content to come from this one. The graphics are a bit on the rough side, so if you were hoping for a VR rhythm game on par with the visual mastery of say Beat Saber, then you will likely be left wanting. The rhythm game within is not all that entertaining when left on its own, so once you finish the brief story mode, you might find yourself looking elsewhere for your VR rhythm game entertainment.

Akyrikon is available on Steam for $4.99 and playable on Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, Valve Index, and HTC Vive headsets.


Gorilla Tag: High Intensity Fitness, Fun & Esports

Reject humanity. Embrace your inner ape. Become gorilla.

The mottos of Another Axiom’s Gorilla Tag, an immersive VR game created by Kerestell “Lemming” Smith, remind us that sometimes people just want to “be a little monke.”

The game itself is relatively basic. There are no buttons, sticks, or teleportation and it’s marvelous actually in its reminder of how much fun immersive environments are simply because we can exist in there in ways that aren’t possible in physical reality. Gorilla Tag also continues to underscore the fitness benefits of combining technology and physical sport.

There are two game modes – tag and infection. In tag, there are up to three players and the goal is to tag the others. In infection mode, there are four or more players and the goal is to run away from infected gorillas. Once you’re infected, it then becomes your goal to infect others.

Gorilla Tag released earlier this year on Steam (February 12) and then Oculus App lab (March 12) and immediately had an active playerbase. While some of this could be due to the fact that the developer had been wisely building a small following of players to provide feedback as he developed the game, the rapid growth and popularity is more attributable to the fact that it’s a fun, free-to-play game through both Oculus App Lab and Steam VR. The game is also a bit addictive.

Gorilla Tag for Fitness

Journalist Adam Braunstein reviewed Gorilla Tag for VR Fitness Insider in late March and the game received an overall VR Fit Score of 8.4/10, with a 10/10 for arms and 9/10 for fitness scalability.

I had the opportunity to play Gorilla Tag while it was still in early development and it totally wore me out. I recall at the time feeling like I had just played a full match of tennis and in fact I’m pretty sure I recall taking a nap afterwards.

It makes me feel a bit better, however, to know that it’s not just tiring for me.

Even well-known content creators such as Mike from VR Oasis have checked out Gorilla Tag and had a bit of exhausting fun.

Lest you have the impression that the game is only physically challenging for players over the age of 30, check out this feedback from some younger enthusiasts.

“On the fitness side of things, Gorilla Tag has significantly increased my stamina and ability to push through fatigue in order to reach that next jump and get away from a tagger,” says Dan, age 18 and competitive Gorilla Tag player. “It can be a very physically taxing game depending on how much effort I exert. Gorilla Tag is the only game I play that can make me sweat so hard that I’m unable to open my eyes. It is the best game on the market currently and it’s free!”

Dan isn’t alone among teens in his assessment of the game for fitness.

“It’s not going to make you get big muscles, but it’ll give you a good sweat and a good arm workout.” – Sort110, age 14, playing since March.

“The sheer amount of stamina and upper body flexibility required to play Gorilla Tag is pretty high. …The restraint of only arm movements creates a level of effort different from most other games.” – Neptune the Wolf, age 15, playing for about five months.

“I used to think Beat Saber was tiring for a VR game, but Gorilla Tag blew it out of the water in pretty much every area.” – [TTT]Octagonal Bagel, age 16, playing since February.

Gorilla tag is without a doubt the most exercise I’ve gotten while playing a VR game. It’s not as fast as Beat Saber or anything, but the thing about Gorilla Tag is that you forget you’re even working out. Your only motivation is to escape a bunch of little kids making monkey noises. Since I began playing, there has been a noticeable difference in my biceps and my upper body in general. On a scale from 1 to 20 bananas, I give it a solid 18.” – Peptobepto, age 15, playing since February.

Gorilla Tag as an Esport

In addition to the fitness benefits, Gorilla Tag has esports potential.

Games of tag have probably existed as long as children have been able to run about and play because it’s simply fun to see if you can run, dodge, duck, or jump more quickly than your friends. Gorilla Tag encourages this primitive sort of fun so of course players quickly found ways to create more formalized competitions.

There are actually quite a few servers dedicated to Gorilla Tag competitive enthusiasts, including a 1v1 Championship League, the “International Gorilla Tag Association,” and Sharks & Minnows Competitive  League.

Players interested in esports will definitely want to check out the Competitive Gorilla Tag (CGT) server and VR Party League Gorilla Tag.

“We are currently on our second season of the competitive league,” states _Zen_, a CGT moderator. “We’ve had a growing amount of newcomers with new and exciting routes within the game, as well as multiple new teams applying for a position in the team roster.”

“It gets pretty addictive to try to play another around and be the last one standing, it can work up a really good sweat,” she adds, noting that she has lost “quite a bit of weight” as a result of playing the active game.

VR Party League (VRPL) launched their first season of Gorilla Tag on Monday. There aren’t many teams in this league yet, but it’s sure to grow as the VR esports community is paying increasing attention to VR Party League as a positive, inclusive option for VR competitions.

The Monke Community

Some people might recognize Kerestell “Lemming” Smith as the man who brought levitation to VR esports with his amazingly high jumps during the VR League finals at Oculus Connect 4 while playing Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena. I actually had the privilege of being eliminated from that competition the day before and it’s much better that Lemming’s team advanced since I play seated and hadn’t quite worked out levitation from my chair yet. [Note: I still haven’t quite managed this yet.]

Photo credit: ESL / VR League

Definitely Smith is one of the nicest guys in the VR community and it’s fantastic to see his game doing so well. Currently there are nearly 18,000 members of the Discord server alone. I actually double checked that number because it’s more than BigBox VR’s Population: One, which has almost 15,000 on the Discord server, and rapidly approaching the 30,000 mark seen on Echo VR’s Discord. Considering the fact that Gorilla Tag has actually been in early access for less than six months, the game has impressive activity among Discord servers as well as in-game players.

According to Steam charts, there have been an average of 159 players on the game at a time. This is slightly higher than last month, but overall the number of players has been relatively steady since release to early access.

Smith talked a bit about the game and his plans for it in the Early Access developer comment section of Steam.

“I’m one guy working on the game in my spare time, and I think that the input from people about what is cool or interesting about the game will be valuable going forward. I wanted to make it available to people because I think the game even in its current state is a lot of fun and I hope people have fun as well.”

He also made note that the base game would always be free, but if he decides to monetize the game it would be through “something like optional cosmetics,” not loot boxes since he – like many other gamers – considers those unethical.

Smith has also involved the community in the process of making the game appealing, following other developers’ example in this regard who engage with players and take feedback into consideration during the development process.

““My goal is to make a game that people find fun and engaging enough to want to play more,” Smith says. “I have certain design goals and principles that I plan on sticking to, but as far as what people find valuable about the game, I would love to get that feedback to inform my decision making about what to work on next. Since it’s a multiplayer only game, the community will be one of the important voices in that process.”


Gorilla Tag is a fun, unique game with an active community and an approachable developer willing to listen to player feedback. Whether you’re interested in Gorilla Tag for fun, esports, or fitness, it offers something for anyone willing to embrace their inner ape.

A multiplayer game that can be played sitting, standing, or roomscale, Gorilla Tag is compatible with all major headsets, including the Oculus Quest 2.

Supernatural VR Fitness App Update Focuses on Individuality and Efficiency

Each person who commits to improved wellness begins a unique journey with different health considerations, preferences, and goals. Supernatural continues to excel in the realm of VR fitness and their latest update focuses on individual needs by providing an even more incredible experience that enables members to apply filters, browse new workout carousels, and quickly find the perfect session among Supernatural’s 500+ workout library.

“Everyone’s fitness journey is unique. You might have a specific taste in music, a specific coach you connect with, or a level of intensity that matches your goals for the day,” says Leanne Pedante, Supernatural’s Head of Fitness.

“With Supernatural 3.0, we’ve made it even easier to find the perfect workouts for you no matter where you are in your fitness journey. This makes staying consistent with your fitness routine that much more fun, joyful and satisfying.”

Supernatural is a fantastic combination of meditation, stretching, and sweat sessions. What’s even better is that the immersive nature of virtual reality allows you to experience these workouts on an almost ethereal level.

For example, I’m a fan of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) and there have been times in Supernatural when a sedating, calming sensation will make my skin tingle. The coaches do a great job of keeping you motivated and helping you sweat while simultaneously maintaining a state of relaxation. It’s quite wonderful actually.

If you’re already familiar with the app, you’re going to love all the new features with this update!

Browse Hand-Curated Collections

Find the Supernatural community’s favorite workouts grouped into carousels that make discovering them a breeze. Features include:

  • Trending will connect you to the most popular workouts of the week.
  • Target Muscle Groups will enable you to easily find workouts that build strength in your lower body, upper body or core.
  • Picks will show you the favorite workouts in each level of intensity.
  • Monster Marathon groups all of Supernatural’s longest workouts into a single list for days you’re feeling up for an endurance challenge.
  • Start a Dance Party drives you to workouts that will get you grooving and connecting to rhythm while you sweat.

Quickly Search Using Powerful Filters

Navigate the vast workout library by selecting your favorite genres of music, coaches, intensity level and duration instantly. Use the filters to find the perfect workout to match your needs and mood.

All the Little Things we Love 

Like the filters, most changes in this update are designed for efficiency. These are wonderful changes for busy people who have committed to a regular fitness routine, but don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to sweat on any given day.

  • Find what’s new fast: New workouts, meditations and stretch sessions are grouped in “New Today” in the Home Menu.
  • Check out playlists while you browse: The new “Detail View” allows you to quickly check out track lists as you browse the library.

New Home Environment

In addition to the new tools that will help you find the perfect workout for your mood, goals, and personal tastes, Supernatural’s new home environment is Sennesvik, Norway. When members open the app, they’ll discover the beautiful setting with lush greenery on a gorgeous mountainscape amid a beautiful sunset.

About Supernatural

Supernatural was launched on the Oculus Quest in April 2020 by Within, a tech company that focuses on immersive experiences with VR and AR. The subscription-based fitness app has continued to grow in popularity, receive regular updates, and was named as one of TIME’s 2020 Best Inventions.

Connect with the Community

As always, we encourage you to connect with the community for any VR games or experiences. The benefits of community engagement can be particularly rewarding for a fitness app like Supernatural as members encourage one another, make suggestions about the types of workouts they’d like to see, etc. So try for the first time, hop back in and check out the fresh new look, or say hello to the community through your preferred social media.

Skyrim VR- An endless fantasy world to explore at your leisure


VR allows us to do things we could not imagine in our wildest dreams. Apart from useful real-world capabilities, it lets us soar through the sky, become superheroes, play out our wildest action movie fantasies, become our favorite athletes, and countless other things. For me though, VR has always been about being transported to another world. While plenty of games claim to let you do this, it’s often in small bursts and it’s really hard to find a game that lets you lose yourself in an entire world that will last you a nearly infinite amount of time. A lot of people say VR is niche because of that and to all of these people, I say, “Have you played Skyrim VR on the PC? No? Then you haven’t seen why VR is amazing.”

Although it was released in 2017 initially for PSVR, Skyrim VR came to the PC, and with it, the infinite possibilities that modding can bring to it. Playing the game these days is like almost playing a sequel to what was already one of the greatest games of all time. If you have somehow managed to avoid playing Skyrim in some form (you can play it on Amazon’s Alexa even), the only way to play it the right way in my eyes is with a VR headset. Let’s explore what made one of the most unexpected ports the most thrilling experience in all of VR.

The Basics

How do you even begin when talking about Skyrim VR? It is one of the most open-ended, do whatever you want type of experiences in gaming history. You start off escaping a terrible fate at the chopping block via a crazy dragon attack sequence, and if you’ve experienced this in the flat-screen version, you know this is an iconic opening sequence, but living through it in VR is just a completely different entity on its own.

From here, you can continue following the story of you being the Dragonborn, which is just this game’s version of the chosen one essentially, or you can make your own path. By this, I don’t just mean you can wander the world at your leisure, although you can do that if you’d like. I’m talking about forging your own career and life path in-game. If you want to steal vegetables from farms and sell them in towns, you can do that, if you want to become a bandit and demand money from every traveler you meet? You can do that. If you want to marry and have a family, you can do that. If said marriage doesn’t work for you and you want to instead ride on the back of a dragon and torch the town you had previously call your home? You can do that too!

The only limit here is your imagination, so if there is something you think you can do in Skyrim VR, you most likely can do it.

What if feels like to play

Vanilla Skyrim VR is pretty wonderful on its own, but it is when you get into the meat of modding the game that real adventure begins. Seeing yourself decked out in the full armor sets in the game as well as the endless amounts of armors added by mods creates one of the coolest feelings in VR and the fun doesn’t end there. You can choose to go about your fighting in the game in one of three ways. You can use magic, use a bow, or use melee weapons like swords and daggers.

As far as the combat goes, the melee is less than thrilling as Skyrim VR does not use physics-based swords and enemies, so the result is your blade passing through enemies doing damage when the game dictates you pulled off a swing. Things get far more fun when you use spells and bows though as spells have you conjuring up the spell in your hand, creating a thrilling vibration as your powers begin to swells and then unleashing it on where your aiming reticule is located. I don’t know about you, but the feeling of being an elemental god is pretty damn cool and thankfully, the physics of Skyrim VR come through here so whether you’re blasting someone with a fireball or turning someone to ice, it works amazingly well and creates some truly awe-inspiring visuals.

If you are more of the archer type, well you are in luck as well as the bow and arrow physics are among the best in VR, and with mods, you can add a scope to your bow, iron sights, as well as arrows that act like grenades, can summon hurricanes, arrow showers or ones that freeze foes completely. You actually have to draw back the bow as well, meaning it will go exactly as far or short as you pull and this control is just amazing.

What will keep you playing

I started playing Skyrim VR in 2017, I haven’t gone more than a month without playing it since. This game is easily 200 hours plus worth of content on its own in the vanilla state, but once you start adding the mods to it which give you entire new lands to explore, enemies to fight, quests to take on, and followers to befriend, you will find yourself in a medieval fantasy world that has a scope that is unlike any game you have ever seen. You will become hypnotized by the snow-covered mountains and lush forests and find yourself lost for hours within the countless crypts and dungeons and ruins that are just begging to be explored.

Playing Skyrim VR is like living another life, where you are a master of magic and ride dragons and fight a war against a false king, to me, that’s enough reason to come back time and time again to this masterpiece of gaming.


Skyrim VR is playable either seated or standing and depending on your playstyle, you might not be moving around all that much or you might be moving quite a bit, so either way, have a nice space set aside for you to play in. You are going to be spending a lot of time in this world, so you should have a safe area available to play in.

Intensity- 6/10

I recorded my 30-minute workout with Fitbit and played on a Samsung Odyssey Plus Windows Mixed reality headset.

Calories burned: 164
Calories burned per minute: 5
Average Heart Rate: 104
Max Heart Rate: 125
Active Minutes: 30

The intensity in Skyrim can vary wildly depending on what you are doing at that particular time. For example, you aren’t going to be sweating much when you are visiting a local tavern to find out about the quests in that area and soaking in the atmosphere and unlike most VR games, you will be spending far longer amounts of time within the game, so a more accurate depiction of the workout you’d get would be over the course of an hour or more. You will however start feeling the sweat coming on when you are neck-deep in the Falmer enemies in a desolate cave somewhere, unleashing every last arrow in your quiver in an attempt to fight off these dangerous foes. Melee can actually be pretty intense as well, especially if you edit your .ini settings to make the threshold options for swinging far higher than you initially have, allowing actual strength to come into play with your swings.

Arms- 8/10

Skyrim VR is very arm centric and although you will go long stretches of time without doing much of anything resembling exercise, the combat scenarios are awfully tough at points and this is exaggerated in VR especially if you are an archer and you can find yourself tiring out pretty quickly if this is the style you prefer to play as. As a warrior, you find yourself swinging like a mad man to beat your foes and while this is mostly done with one hand, dual-wielding will bring the other hand into the fight and can be a hell of a time when fighting in this style. This can be amplified by lowering your .ini melee threshold settings too as you can make it so hits will only register if you are using a certain amount of force in your swings, making certain that you will have to earn your kills as a melee character. Mages won’t really be getting much of an arm workout here, but the real fun comes with Weapon Throw VR, a mod that allows you to throw any weapon in any hand and the result is an exhausting and incredible visual experience as you are launching your weapons left and right like you’re Thor. Overall, there are plenty of ways to get your arms involved in Skyrim VR.

Legs- 8/10


You might be thinking “Skyrim VR? Legs? WHAT?” and normally you’d be right, but with a  few tweaks to the gameplay and an extra app downloaded, you can actually get a solid leg workout from this game. First of all, we have the setting to apply physical sneak. This means for all you archers and assassin builds out there, means you will actually have to be crouching to get your sneak to activate. Doing this will have your legs barking for relief in especially tough scenarios, though the payoff of getting your double damage hits off is pretty worth it I’d say.

The other big way to use your legs in the game is by actually running in place. Through an app called Natural Locomotion, you can turn your flat-footed experience in Skyrim VR into one that is actually very active. Using Natural locomotion, your movement becomes solely controlled through the movement of your arms and legs. Swinging your arms in a motion you would use for running or walking will cause your character to start moving and you can adjust in the settings just how fast or slow you want this to be. The leg sensors require additional controllers to sense them, but if you are using a device with full-body tracking such as an HTV Vive, you will have your legs tracked naturally in this regard. I was able to mix this in with a treadmill to create an amazing running experience as I was able to sprint through the lush forests and dark caves of Skyrim without any trouble, all while being able to stop to fight when needed. A manual treadmill is recommended for this experience, but it is well worth it, especially with the VR treadmills of the world being quite expensive at the moment.

Core/ Balance- 7/10

In terms of your core being involved while playing Skyrim VR, you are going to have to play a certain style to get the most out of it. For example, if you are playing as a warrior or a mage, you won’t be engaging your core all that much here. As a stealth-based archer or assassin though you can utilize the sneaking technique and by enabling physical sneak, you will have to be crouched over while moving to get behind your targets unnoticed. If you do choose a mage path though, you can still get your core involved, but it won’t be the game forcing it on you, instead, you are going to exaggerate your motions when launching a spell. That means torqueing your body as you thrust your hand forth to launch a fire spell. It adds to the immersion for sure as you wouldn’t expect such power to fly forth from you with meek gestures to begin with.

Time Perception- 10/10

I’ve been playing VR for 4 years now and I still have yet to find a game that is as inviting as it terrifying, calming as it is cruel and awe-inspiring as it is pulse-pounding. Skyrim VR might take a little while to get acclimated to as there are tons of menus and systems to learn at the start, but once you do, this will become your second life. I have seen the hours fade away as I’m exploring a newly discovered crypt or trying to find the right items to craft the ideal weapon. Things get even better with mods like HIGGS ( Hand Interaction and Gravity Gloves for Skyrim VR), which lets you physically grab items in the world like bowls, cups, and also allows you to take the armor off of enemies as well as weapons instead of just navigating through the classic menus. The result of all this is an experience that can grip you for hours at a time and the relatively light physical exertion allows for this.

Replayability- 10/10

A perfect score in a category like this is tough to justify a lot of the time. That changes though when the content in question has the potential to house over 300 hours’ worth of gameplay. The thing about Skyrim VR is that you are never going to finish every single thing in the game, it’s borderline impossible because some of the quests are radiant, which means they just keep regenerating in slightly different ways, the best example of which happens during the Dark Brotherhood questline, which is among the best in the game, so you’ll be happy it never truly ends. If you get to modding, you will have an experience that will last you for the rest of your life. There is a reason that players still have Skyrim at the top of Steam’s charts a decade after its initial release. It is a game of wonder that will be etched forever in gaming history as the game that never lost its fanbase.

Fitness Scalability- 7/10

There are certain ways to get a workout in Skyrim VR, and those revolve around the type of player you are. If you want the easy-going and breezy experience, that is readily available as you can go large stretches of time in the game without even touching combat, and instead, you can enjoy the atmosphere, browse the markets, follow questlines that feature little to no combat, and explore at your leisure. If you want to get the heart rate going though, there are plenty of opportunities to have this happen as opportunities to fight are ripe all over the place, and with some mods that add monsters to the world, you will never be wandering too far without a fight to take part in.

Dizziness/ Lack of Nausea- 9/10

In Skyrim VR, your options for movement are vast and if the basic teleporting mechanic causes some uneasiness in you, you can easily turn it to natural locomotion and play that way instead. In addition to this, you can turn on tunnel vision in the options menu to limit your peripheral view, which has been known to help VR sickness as well. As long as your frame rate is staying steady, you won’t feel any sickness while playing Skyrim VR. However, some of the less polished ideas in the game such as horseback riding, dragon-riding, and getting punched by a giant (please do not let this happen to you), do not translate great to VR and can definitely cause your stomach to turn a bit.

Social Interaction- 6/10

Skyrim VR is not a multiplayer game in the least, but that does not mean it doesn’t involve any social interaction. If you peruse the internet for information on the game, you find countless message boards and Reddit pages detailing and discussing everything you can imagine, and the best way to describe the experience to liken Skyrim to the videogame version of Game of Thrones. For fans of that world, you know that although you likely digest the stories on your own, the true joy of it all is discussing everything with friends and strangers alike and the same goes for Skyrim VR, which has a background of lore that would make any fantasy fans fall in love with.

VR Fit Score- 7.8/10

Game Score- 9.5/10

The Good

Skyrim VR does the impossible, taking one of the greatest games of all time and directly translating it into VR in a way that is easy to learn and hard to master. It gives an almost endless amount of quests to play through with tons of different weapons to collect and magic spells to acquire. In terms of writing, you won’t find a more compelling RPG in VR as the side content and stories they weave are by now iconic in their own right. The main quest on its own is not that lengthy, but exploring the different guilds, joining in a civil war, or fighting against the vampire army in the DLCs will keep you busy for years to come, and with the modders constantly working to improve the game, the VR experience gets better and better.

The Bad

Skyrim VR is certainly behind the times with VR physics, so if you are looking for something that gives full VR immersion without having to use mods to get that experience, this won’t be it. The graphics are also less than impressive at first glance, so without a strong enough system to support some serious supersampling and visual mods, you will be looking at a game with graphics from 2011, up close and personal and that isn’t the best visual experience, to say the least. You might just be burned out on Skyrim by now as well, so it is possible that the allure of reliving the experience in VR may just not be worth it for you.

Skyrim VR is available on Steam and the Playstation Store for $59.99 and is playable on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, Oculus Quest 1 and 2 via a link, PSVR, and Windows Mixed Reality Headsets.

Larcenauts: Immersion Overload Update Adds Key Immersive Features

Impulse Gear, an independent game developer and publisher located in San Francisco, continues to prioritize game features based on community feedback and requests for Larcenauts, a team-based multiplayer first-person hero shooter that was released last month. Today’s Immersion Overload Update focuses on gameplay options that allow for an even more engaging, VR-specific experience such as two-handed pivot-aiming, manual reload, and immersive sprinting. Meanwhile, the Impulse Gear team is also considering community input regarding continued growth of the playerbase as well as explorations into the realm of VR esports.

While VR gaming itself is an immersive experience, we continue to see the best in the industry strive for even greater immersion and that’s what today’s update is all about. Additional controls that allow manual reload and two-handed pivot aiming will provide increased engagement for all players, but for those with a bHaptics TactSuit vest, there will be increased engagement through sensations delivered while wearing the consumer-ready haptics vest that makes you feel one step closer to that Ready Player One experience with feedback in real time to coincide with in-game activities.

The Larcenauts: Immersion Overload update is free and includes:

  • Manual reloads: An immersive new reload system option that lets the player perform actions to manually reload their weapon for maximum realism. Combined with style and automatic reload options, players can tailor the reload mechanic to their liking. 
  • Two-handed pivot aiming: Players can now select an all-new aiming mode that uses the position of both hands to aim weapons, keeping them in control and in the action. 
  • Immersive sprint: A new sprint mode option where players retain control of their hands while sprinting. Players can simply aim their weapon downward to start sprinting.
  • Cross-play lobbies: Cross-play lobbies are live so Steam VR and Oculus players can join each other’s lobby by entering a player’s unique lobby code. 
  • Native support for bHaptics TactSuit vests: This third-party wearable interprets in-game actions into haptic feedback that the player feel when wearing the bHaptics TactSuit vest. 
  • Free new skin for Calima: Impulse Gear are giving away a brand-new cosmetic skin for Calima, the Infiltrator, for free to all users who login before the end of July 2021. 
  • Spatialized VOIP in lobby: Players in the social lobby will now hear their friends VOIP spatialized. 
  • Localized text English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean: Full in-game text localization of the noted languages, including localized dialog for Captain Kas in the tutorial. 

Larcenauts is noted by some, including this author, to be the team-based multiplayer hero shooter VR needs. The game is a lot of fun and you’re able to select from an array of specialists that have individual personalities and backstories carefully crafted by the creative team at Impulse Gear. Of course those stories are sure to be embellished by players and lore as the game progresses. Each specialist has customizable weapon loadouts and unique skills that can be upgraded over time as you play and earn loot boxes, etc.


The VR gaming community tends to be active and vocal, with many of the early leaders and well-known names investing time and energy to play the games, provide input to developers, and encourage growth of the playerbase. Such is the case with Larcenauts and you’ll see many familiar names from the realm of VR gaming on the Larcenauts’ Discord server. These players have been actively making suggestions since the game released on June 17 and in addition to the Immersion Overload update, the developers seem eager to encourage growth of the playerbase with fun activities focused on community engagement.

Recent suggestions made on the Discord server have included:

  • Community contests
  • Instructional videos
  • Teasers of works-in-progress
  • Dev Happy Hour with an advertised time when players can play with the developers
  • Highlight reels of game clips
  • Sharing more news on social media
  • Continued access to fun Discord tools for players

While the developers have confirmed that they will institute some of these, such as a Dev Happy Hour, other activities can be community-led. Content creators have already been stepping up to the plate by creating how-to or informational videos about the game, such as this video from FNH8iT showing all Larcenauts specialists’ overcharge abilities and weapons.

There are also plans for community contests on Discord that could result in in-game gifts for winners.

As always, we recommend that you engage in VR communities where you can make suggestions, find friends, ask questions, and participate in community events. Also follow games on social media for news and information.


Impulse Gear developers have been carefully monitoring community feedback and one question that continues to come up is when the game will be ready for the competitive esports scene. There are several things to consider and Greg Koreman, Founder and CTO of Impulse Gear, weighed in on this topic.

“Private Lobbies are very important for esports, and this is an avenue that we want to explore with Larcenauts,” Koreman said. “We think the game has a lot to offer in that area so providing the right tools for esports to flourish is going to be critical for us.”

Cross-play lobbies with the unique lobby code are a step in the right direction toward private lobbies for esports, but timing is essential. If private lobbies are introduced too soon, players will absolutely jump into the esports scene and sometimes that can have disastrous effects as we’ve seen in other games where average players dwindle because they simply don’t enjoy becoming fodder for high rank players who gleefully practice stomping them.

Fortunately many of the most active players in the VR esports scene want to see growth of VR gaming overall so they’ve begun to prioritize community-building activities, bug fixes, and development of a solid relationship with the developers, etc. before pushing too strongly for esports. This is an improvement from several years ago where the immediate reaction to every game was a desire for ranked competitive play. While VR gaming is rapidly expanding, the fact is that there are a lot of great games out there so each game must first establish a positive foundation and build the playerbase overall if they want to succeed.

With that said, Larcenauts developers seem committed to continued community growth and at it happens, Koreman states that they do plan to iterate private lobbies. He sees that as a short term goal that would come with other benefits.

“Spectator mode for casters would be part of a later iteration of private lobbies,” says Koreman. “We want to get the initial feature in place and gather community feedback as we go. Spectator mode takes a bit more work than private lobbies so I am not certain on the timeline for it, but we certainly recognize the value in the feature.”

Where to Purchase

Larcenauts is available with full cross-play and cross-buy support on Oculus devices, including the Quest, Quest 2, Rift, and Rift S. The game is also available via Steam VR and has cross-play support for HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Oculus Rift. MSRP is $29.99 on all platforms.

The Immersion Overload update is free for those who already own the game. Everyone who logs in before the end of July 2021 will receive a new, free in-game cosmetic skin for Calima, the Infiltrator.


Ready Player Golf VR Tournament on Oculus Quest to Benefit XRSI

Ready Player Golf is hosting a charity event that will take place in the Oculus Quest game Topgolf with Pro Putt. Tickets for the VR golf tournament are $100 each (tax deductible) and proceeds benefit XR Safety Initiative. Registration is open now for the September 24-25 event.

Pro Putt made its debut in the Oculus app store for the Quest in May 2020 and passed one million dollars in sales by December according to an article in Forbes magazine by Charlie Fink. That’s over 50,000 units sold! It’s popularity is understandable as the game nicely combines an authentic feel of golfing with unique aspects of immersive reality such as a little visual celebration when you land the ball in the hole.

I typically don’t write about games I haven’t played myself as I prefer to give you a firsthand perspective so I hopped in Pro Putt with Sophia Moshasha, co-founder of Ready Player Golf, and Chris Madsen, who is doing great things with ENGAGE. It was a fantastic time, but once we were in game, I think Sophia realized my comment about having no experience with golf was not exaggerated.

My first question was, “How do I hold the golf stick?”

I was so incredibly bad at this game and obviously have never golfed, but it was a lot of fun! As we worked our way around the course, I began to realize that perhaps part of the point of golf, which I always considered a relatively “slow-paced” sport, is simply to enjoy the fellowship of those around you. I should mention that I kind of enjoy more violent games, but I was pleased to accidentally discover that there’s a bit of nice immersive feedback if you hit someone with your club.

To be clear, you don’t have to be an expert – or even have any knowledge of golf to enjoy Pro Putt or participate in the Ready Player Golf charity event. As a participant, you’ll have fun and do the best you can. You’ll also have the opportunity to see NFT (non-fungible token) art auctions, meet celebrity guests, enjoy social VR, and experience multi-metaverse portaling.

Ready Player One is partnered with ENGAGE, an advanced communications platform that provides an environment for immersive interaction and communication. You’ll have the opportunity to hang out in ENGAGE for Friday Friendlies, meet other players before matches, and attend the special awards show on September 25.


Although the event itself is a couple of months away, participants meanwhile have an opportunity to meet other golf enthusiasts through the Ready Player Golf Discord server, where you can ask questions, read event announcements, and discuss the game. There are also regular get togethers for fun on the immersive course.

Event Format

When the event kicks off on September 24, you’ll meet in the RPG clubhouse in the ENGAGE platform. This area was created especially for Ready Player Golf and is a fun area that makes you feel a bit like you should sit down and smoke a cigar while chatting about golf and current news. Or you could just hang out and talk about why you chose particular clothes for your avatar, which is what I did.

In addition to mingling with other guests on event day, you’ll have the opportunity to bid on featured artist NFTs and play games. Finally, you’ll find your teammates and portal to your match.

September 24

  • Group 1- 12:00 pm EDT
  • Group 2- 3:00 pm EDT
  • Group 3- 6:00 pm EDT

On September 25, you can join your new friends at the RPG clubhouse in ENGAGE once again and portal to the cabaret room, where you can network, check out sponsor booths, and watch the tournament awards show.

September 25

  • ​12:00 pm EDT

I’ve been told by some who attended last year in a charity tournament to benefit Doctors Without Borders that the awards show is an incredibly fun event. You can watch the awards show from season 1 below and the organizers have worked with ENGAGE to provide even more excitement during season 2.

How to Participate

Sign up for the tournament on the Ready Player Golf website, pay the tax deductible registration fee, then download the Pro Putt and ENGAGE applications and come prepared to play in September.

XR Safety Initiative

All proceeds of this Ready Player Golf charity event will go to XR Safety Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to the promotion of a culture of trust, privacy, and safety in the emerging mediums of XR, such as virtual and augmented reality.

XRSI is viewed by many as a necessary component of the XR industry and while cybersecurity has been around for a while, immersive reality has brought more issues and some novel challenges that require the establishment of baseline standards and the importance of addressing novel cyber attacks in emerging technologies. The experts at XRSI are unrelenting in their pursuit of this goal to maintain safety and privacy as XR tech rapidly permeates society.

To learn more about XR Safety Initiative, check out the XRSI Privacy Framework and follow XRSI on social media.


Swarm – Swinging and Shooting Action in VR


VR is maybe the most impressive technological achievement of this past decade. To be able to put on a headset and become immersed in a whole other world with graphics that are wildly impressive at times is something that a lot of us could not dream was possible, and now it has become one of the main platforms to game on.

VR games have been hit or miss for the most part though, with a lot of games failing to find the balance between entertainment and VR interaction. Some games just nail the idea of putting you in a game though and with Swarm VR, you get a very gamey experience that is both completely insane and also beautiful chaos that fully utilizes the VR platform to create an experience that just would not translate the same anywhere else. As VR titles seem to continually copy each other with few new ideas being pushed forth, Swarm VR is certainly a breath of fresh air.

The Basics

We get started with a short tutorial here that shows you how everything works. In Swarm, you are essentially Spider-Man with guns. That’s the phrase the developers use to describe the experience here and while that is pretty lofty of an expectation to create, it is not that far off. You’re equipped with two guns equipped with grappling hooks on them and if you are thinking that this sounds pretty damn cool, you are not wrong.

The basic gameplay comes down to swinging around like Spider-Man practicing his moves while lighting up robots with dual guns in slow motion and the result is a dizzying spectacle that truly feels like you are being thrust into a game from the old days of gaming. That’s to say, Swarm feels like a VR version of something like Space Invaders. Rather than focus on the incredible worlds you can create in VR and the amazing physics systems that can be utilized, Swarm focuses on one thing, having fun.

What it feels like to play


Playing Swarm is a mix of amazing ideas mixed with varying levels of execution. The levels go down like this, you’re thrust into an arena that is filled with tons of platforms for you to latch onto, and from portals in the sky, robots spawn to attack you. Simple enough right? This is all driven by the grappling hook gameplay and the idea here is that you can latch onto these platforms to launch yourself all over the arena to take out the enemies coming at you.

Though it is a bit jarring at first, you will soon be swinging and shooting like a pro and the feeling is simply exhilarating. The graphical style is also pretty unique in that it is somewhere between cell shading and straight-up comic book visuals and while that might not be that great looking on a flat screen, in VR, this effect truly makes you feel like a superhero. The enemies are nicely varied as well and with each level, you can expect to see a new variant or two to change up the gameplay as well as a massive, hulking boss to contend with. This is where I really started to respect the game’s vision here. It would have been easy enough to just throw the same old robots at us over and over, but here, we get new weapons and new enemies to use them against to keep the experience fresh.

What will Keep you Playing?

With a nice variety of levels and a great number of thrills even in the replaying of previous ones, Swarm definitely is a small-budget title with big-budget ambitions. The developers at Greensky Games are also dedicated to increasing the content and they have a strong rapport with the community, often reaching out to YouTube reviewers for feedback and that connection with the community is a great thing that usually yields great results.

There are leaderboards here as well which lend themselves to the arcade nature of the game and it really adds to the old school feel they have going here and is a nice addition in a game where you wouldn’t normally assume would have one.


In terms of playspace needed to play Swarm, you really won’t need all that much. Most of your movement in this game will be vertically with your arms and maybe leaning from side to side as you are flying through the air. You might be turning around a lot as well, so at least be sure that you have a 360-degree area cleared of objects because the action ramps up pretty fast and intensely.

Intensity- 8/10

I recorded my 30-minute workout on a Fitbit and played on an Oculus Quest 2 headset.

Calories burned: 164
Calories burned per minute: 5
Average Heart Rate: 104
Max Heart Rate: 130
Active Minutes: 23

Swarm probably won’t be too intense for most in a physical capacity, but from a visual and purely experience perspective, this is one of the more intense games you can play in VR. Whether it is the wild visuals in VR or the fast-paced gameplay that has you literally soaring through the air pulling off moves that would belong comfortably in the Matrix, the game is as intense as it gets. Playing on the harder difficulties will also get the heart rate going as the enemies are that much deadlier and you have to be extremely quick with your grapples and swings to make sure your dodges are on point.

Arms- 8/10

Most of the action taking place in Swarm has to do with your arms. Swinging, pulling to gain momentum, and aiming and firing your weapons all are done via your arms and it is heavily recommended that you stretch to start out. While you won’t be building any real muscle tone with this game, there is a good chance you will be tiring out those arms and shoulders awfully quickly with enough game time here, so if you are looking for a good way to get active in VR quick, this is a great way to do it.

Legs- 5/10

There is no actual need for your legs in this game and because of it, you can easily play while seated. This might be an advantage for some, but immersion-wise, it definitely takes you out of it a bit for sure. I played standing up and I actually decided to use my legs a bit to dodge out of the way when enemy gunfire and missiles were coming my way. Now, this isn’t exactly realistic at all since you can’t really jump to the side while flying through the air, but this is a comic book game about flying through the air with two guns with grappling hooks attached to them, so it doesn’t take away from the experience all that much.

Core/Balance- 7/10

One of the biggest things you need to take note of here is your balance. This game has you flying through the air like a superhero and turning around 360 degrees all the time and craning your neck to see enemies coming at you from above, below and all sides will constantly have you disoriented here and more than a few times I was thrown off balance from the absolute insanity taking place in my headset. Swarm won’t be working out your core all that much, but balance-wise, this is a true test of how well you are acclimated to VR and I would not recommend this game to new players to VR as it really tests the limit on both your toleration for heights as well as your balance. Make sure you won’t have anything in the immediate area that would hurt falling into. This seems like an obvious statement, but with Swarm, it is particularly true.

Time Perception- 8/10

If there is one thing Swarm really nails, it is the feeling that you are this superhero swinging and shooting through the air while trying to take down the alien menace that is attacking your world. With the fun little comic styled cutscenes and the energetic music and visuals, it is very easy to find yourself getting lost for a bit in Swarm and the energetic gameplay just does not let up one bit throughout your time with the game. As far as how long you will be able to play through, that is a bit tough to say because different people will have different feelings about how much they can tolerate here. As far as my play sessions went with Swarm, I usually hopped in for 15-20 minutes or so outside of my initial fitness test with the game and that felt like the sweet spot for me.

Replayability- 8/10

Swarm has an interesting gameplay loop to it and although the initial content isn’t all that lengthy, the gameplay itself has kind of an ageless feel to it that harkens back to the days of old-school arcade games. If you are familiar with how those games worked, they were pretty much endlessly repayable simply because of the fact that you could rack up high scores every round and the addiction to beating your previous best scores became one of the prime factors for creating the first generation of gamers. Swarm has that sort of appeal with the leaderboards and the variety of ways you can choose to approach each level. Will you constantly swing from platform to platform, slowing time in mid-air to take out your enemies or will you go slower, hanging from a particular platform as you carefully pick off each enemy from there? It’s a great mix and allows for multiple playthroughs.

Fitness Scalability- 7/10

As stated before, you can play Swarm while seated. That being said, you will get way less out of it from a fitness perspective. If you play standing though, the biggest thing to alter the kind of workout you will be getting is the difficulty. While the easiest difficulty will be a rather light affair in the fitness department, the hardest difficulty will have you working up quite a sweat as you’ll be frantically swinging as fast as possible to dodge the more damaging fire from the alien army. You won’t be getting any amazing workout here in general, but for those looking to work up a sweat, the hard difficulty will definitely give you what you want.

Dizziness/ Lack of Nausea- 7/10

This category is where Swarm gets into a bit of trouble because although the developers have done everything in their power to make sure you have plenty of options to lower nausea and dizziness while playing, there is still nothing to get you ready to literally soar through the air as you do in this game. As a veteran of VR, I found myself a bit taken back at the start, unsure if I would be able to handle the intense action taking place in front of me and being completely thrown off balance by the initial level. After a while though, I was able to get acclimated to the various systems at play and got my bearings and from there, I had an awesome time with the over-the-top VR spectacle before me.

Social Multiplayer- 7/10

While not an actual multiplayer game, Swarm does a solid job in trying to come up with ways to stay connected to the VR community and that is done with the leaderboards. It is here where you can see your scores calculated at the end of each level and this is impacted by everything from speed completed to the number of hits taken and gives you a reason to keep returning to try to get the top score in the world.

VR Fit Score- 7.2/10

Game Score- 7/10

The Good

Swarm is an incredibly original VR shooter with some impressive swinging mechanics that creates an exciting experience that gives you a true thrill that only a VR platform could deliver. The enemies are unique and there are more introduced the more you play and between that and the addition of new weapons and gameplay mechanics like slow motion, there is plenty here to entertain you and friends new to VR for quite some time. The developers are adding more content as well and seem very dedicated to keeping the game updated which means well for the future of the game.

The Bad

Some people just will not be able to handle the wild gameplay and might find themselves sickened at the high-flying action taking place. A very specific type of player will enjoy this game as there is very little story here and repetitive gameplay will possibly grate on some people very quickly. To add to this, the $24.99 price tag might be too much to pay for what seems like a limited experience.

Swarm is available for $24.99 on the Oculus Quest Store and playable on the Oculus Quest 1 and 2.

Michael Wells:  A Fantastical Journey To Improved Wellness through VR Gaming

In June 2019, Michael and his friends took a vacation to Florida and while visiting Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, the 265-pound 40+-year-old was asked to sit in the “test chair” to assess whether he could fit on one of the rides. Although it was an embarrassing experience, it was also the motivation Michael needed to lose weight and improve his health.

Ultimately Michael turned to FitXR, a VR fitness game that offers boxing, dance, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). He has lost 85 pounds over the past two years, now wears a size 32-33 pants, and is thrilled with his improved fitness.

An ophthalmologist from Columbus, Ohio, we’re grateful Michael agreed to share his story with VR Fitness Insider and hope you find it as inspirational as we do!

What was the “ah-ha!” moment when you decided you wanted to lose weight?

Michael:  As a physician and medical educator, one of my passions is teaching medical students. My employer would ask to record my classes, but after seeing the videos, I would request them not to use it because I was embarrassed at how much I weighed. Despite that I still didn’t have the motivation to make any changes. I just reverted to the vicious cycle of being depressed about my weight, and turning to food to treat that depression.

However, it all came to a halt in June 2019 when I went to Florida with some family and friends. Before the trip, I reluctantly bought new larger clothes, so I was already feeling down about myself. I had trouble walking the park at Disney, and I refused to go to the beach, lying to my friends and family, saying “I had work to do.”

On the third day, a few of us decided to visit the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios. At the front of the line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, I was asked to sit in the “test chair” because they thought I was too big to fit on the ride – in front of the entire line of people. They were very professional and polite about it, but it was embarrassing nonetheless. I immediately thought to myself that I had to make some changes because I didn’t want to be the heavy uncle/godfather who wasn’t going to be able to enjoy the theme parks with my nieces, nephews, and godchildren the same way that they did. Or the uncle/godfather that was just a memory because he died so young.

Michael, weighing around 265 pounds, in June 2019 at Hogwart’s School of Magic at Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida.

What brought you to VR as an exercise tool?

Michael:  I’ve been interested in VR technology for years, and Beat Saber was one of the first games I played on the Oculus. I didn’t look at Beat Saber as a way to exercise – I’m a gamer, and just wanted to play the game. But after getting good enough at it to play the Expert levels, I realized that after a few songs, I was breaking a sweat. Beat Saber had fooled me into exercising!

After realizing that, I wanted more variety from the workouts and something that had a higher impact. After some searching, I came across FitXR. The music is what caught my attention first, but I also found the diversity of class length, style, and music type to really fit in with my work out needs and work schedule. I also really liked the idea of having a calorie count in the game so I could not only improve my score, but also watch how much activity I had done. Now, FitXR is my main exercise tool and I changed to a more ketogenic-like diet to supplement the workouts. And I’ve discovered so many new artists through the game, that I keep coming back for new classes so I can keep my playlist fresh!

What was your experience like with traditional fitness institutions and equipment (going to the gym, weights, treadmills, etc)?

Michael:  I have had gym memberships in the past, and gone through several periods of dedication, but I find traditional exercise and gyms to be boring, and having to actually go somewhere to get exercise was for me counter-motivational. In fact, the last time I was in a gym was over 20 years ago when I was in college! I used the memberships sporadically, and just found myself paying more money than I was getting out of the membership. I also used to own an elliptical that collected dust over 15 years. I finally got rid of it after realizing I could get my exercise through VR.

Do you feel you get the same (or a better) workout using FitXR?

Michael:  I am definitely getting a better workout with FitXR, and I think the main reason is because I keep doing it. It keeps me interested, especially with all of the classes and variety in music. But what I tell people who are intrigued but also skeptical is that, while it was movement and exercise, I “wasn’t training for a marathon.” With the addition of HIIT classes, higher level cardio (aerobic, anaerobic) workouts are now part of my routine.

When you started your journey, what routine did you set for yourself for both dieting and exercise?


Diet: Ketogenic diet – I limited myself to 15g carbs a day at first, and ate smaller portions throughout the day with a healthful and fulfilling dinner.

Exercise: FitXR and Beat Saber on 2 weekdays for about 30 minutes, and on the weekend for about 2 hours a day. I also actively make decisions to take stairs rather than elevators.

You shared you lost 85 pounds. Was that the goal you had in mind? If not, what was it?

Michael:  I started around 265, and my goal was to get to 200, and be able to wear size 34-35 pants again. My ideal body weight according to some calculations is 174.  I was so motivated and felt so much better when I got to 200, that I decided I wanted to go a bit further but also started adjusting my diet to maintain a constant weight. I am now in the low 180s, and proud to wear 32-33 pants!

How long did it take you to lose that weight?

Michael:  I started on July 1, 2019, and hit 200 on Jan 28, 2020. I have been in the low 180s since July 2020.

How did the pandemic impact your health and wellness habits?

Michael:  Luckily, I developed my exercise routine and diet habits before COVID-19, so when things shut down, I wasn’t really impacted. I was already exercising at home, and just kept on doing it. And VR actually helped my mental status as well – I used it as an escape, not just to exercise. VR allowed me to “get out” of my apartment. I “travelled” the world at times – visited Notre Dame, the Great Pyramids and the Grand Canyon, for example. So VR has not only helped me physically, but mentally as well.

Michael, weighing around 185 pounds, in April 2021 at Hogwart’s School of Magic at Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida.

What is it about FitXR and Beat Saber that kept bringing you back?

Michael:  The music, the community, and the fun!

Do you have a favorite workout? Instructor?

Michael:  I love every instructor and (almost) every class, but “Barricade” is by far my favorite class, and Dillon Spicer and Ianthe Mellors are the instructors I love the most.

Have you met others through the FitXR community? Have you invited friends to join?

Michael:  I have chatted with a few people in the FitXR community through Facebook. I’ve invited several coworkers and friends to join the community as well.

What have you learned about yourself from this journey?

Michael:  That I’m fully capable of taking care of myself, and that every person’s fitness journey is unique. I learned to be proud of myself, and to take a step back to realize that I can’t take care of people the way I want to if I am not taking care of myself.

I also have learned that it’s okay to say no. I have several responsibilities and roles that I do with my job, all of which I love and am passionate about. When I was recently approached to take on a new task that would require more dedicated time outside of work, I thought that I could do it – but I would have to take time away from cooking and exercising to make it happen. I realized I would rather take care of myself properly, stay healthy, and do the things I already do well, and turned down the request.

VR Fitness Insider:  It’s always an honor for us to share these stories with our readers. It’s encouraging to read about others who make the decision to improve their health and then see their amazing positive results. We greatly appreciate Michael allowing us to share his journey!

Party Time in Echo Arena with 2v2 VR Esports Event

It’s party time in Echo VR!

VR Party League is hosting a 2v2 tournament in Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena, a virtual sport game set in a zero-gravity arena. Players are encouraged to partner with a friend and test their skills against others in the community.

Although Echo Arena was set up as a 3v3 when it launched in July 2017 and there are options for everything from 1 to 5 players on each team in private matches, it’s now played as a 4v4 in pub (public) matches and most competitive leagues.

Switching the game to a 2v2 where you have to rely on only one teammate greatly changes dynamics of the game. If both players are bruisers who stun a lot, for example, then they might have difficulty focusing on the disc and scoring goals. If both are strikers, they might inadvertently leave their own goal open, which creates an opportunity for the opposing team.

Definitely 2v2 events are incredibly fun to participate in and spectate as you see how players try to adjust to fewer opportunities to regrab, determine strategy against the opposing team in what can feel like a larger arena when you have less players, and use their individual and two-person team talents to secure a win.

“The Echo community loves playing in events that are different than the normal pub style gameplay,” says Dewey Blankenship, founder of VR Party League. “That’s what makes the VR Party League 2v2 event so amazing. It allows players to really connect with their partner and come up with new strategies and playstyles.”

“Our VRPL 2v2 from fall 2020 was a great example of that,” he continues. “Feedback from the players, their experiences in the tournament, and the connection to each other really makes the 2v2 shine.”

Tournament Info

This current VRPL 2v2 event is open only to Echo Arena players in North America and is scheduled to last six weeks.

  • July 14: Registration opens.
  • August 12: Registration closes.
  • August 15: Matches will be posted and 2v2 week one begins.

Additional details, rules and registration can be found on the VR Party League Discord server. As always, we encourage engagement with the community because a party is no fun alone.

Where to Watch

The upcoming VRPL 2v2 Tournament will be cast live on VR Sports Network and VR Party League Twitch channels. VR Sports Network is committed to positive, professional coverage of VR sports and Echo Arena is widely considered the first true sport in immersive reality. Read more about the collaboration between VRSN and VRPL in this VR Fitness Insider article.

Community-Building Esports Event Coming to Population: One VR Game

Since the release of Population: One in October 2020, players have been forming clans, independent leagues, and super secret societies accessible only to the elite, but community leaders are coming together to host the Population: One Community Cup where affiliations will be irrelevant, enemies will become friends, and players better quickly learn to sink or … well, they’ll have one week to learn to work as a team or die.

Players of all levels from near and far are welcome to participate in the event and they’ll be placed on 5-person teams during a snake draft. Registration opens now and teams will be announced on July 24. (Players who register after teams are announced will be placed on a sub list.) Once teams are posted, teams can practice as much – or as little – as they’d like with their new team, but those who learn how to communicate and work together are likely to survive longer than those who think this is going to be easy.

  • Registration opens: NOW
  • Event Date: July 31 – August 1
  • Time: 10 am PDT | 1 pm EDT | 6 pm BST (Coverage begins at the same time on both days.)

For Pop: One enthusiasts who are accustomed to the regular 3-person squads, the format for this community event has been adjusted slightly to encourage engagement with other players. Typically teams register as a group of 3 for events such as Mob Toyco Population: One Premier League (information available on Mob Toyco Discord server), but the purpose of the Population: One Community Cup Summer 2021 event is to create as much engagement as possible among players who might not normally be placed together on teams.

Additional format for the Population: One Community Cup includes:

  • solo registration
  • randomized teams through snake draft
  • lobby monitors will come from various community groups
  • max 4 hours play time each event day, July 31 – Aug. 1

Population: One

Considered VR’s premier battle royale experience, Population: One captured over $10 million in sales within three months after launch. The playerbase has continued to grow rapidly and in addition to the main Pop One Discord server, there are many opportunities to engage in communities that have sprouted up as a result of the popularity of the game.

Everyone is invited to participate in the Community Cup and it will be pleasing to see representation from various clans, groups, etc. There are special interviews and videos to highlight various community groups, but meanwhile here are some of the leaders helping plan this exciting event.

Credit: BigBox VR (assets) and Z-Axis (designer)

Name:  Toyco

Representing:  Mob Toyco

“Mob Toyco is running the logistics of the Community Summer Tournament. We wanted to come together with other community leaders and make this a fun and engaging experience where everyone can connect with new people, play some games and have a good time. We know these events are important because being part of a community can help everyone feel as though they are a part of something greater than themselves.

We believe in the integrity and the passion the players have for this game. Bringing a stronger sense of unity onto this platform through these experiences is something we are happy to be a part of.

We’ve mostly focused on the competitive scene for Population: One, but we have had a few fun events in between to engage more people in the community. We want to make sure that everyone is able to have an enjoyable experience; whether that’s making new friends or being in a lobby of sweats.

I want to thank all the staff over at Mob Toyco and all the teams and players that have made all of this possible. Without the help from everyone uniting together none of this would be possible.”

Name:  Lucyfur_Daemon_PX

Representing: Phoenix – Clan est. 2021 (co-owner)

“I have been playing POP:ONE since Oct 2020 and became involved competitively in Jan 2021. I joined my first clan at that point. I have now become very involved in the community and started my own clan. As a woman in the community, I am excited to be a leader/owner of a clan that not only promotes inclusiveness in this community but is also involved in promoting it in this event.

Lobby hosting competitions and Leagues has also been a mainstay of my presence in POP:ONE so I will certainly be bringing my expertise in ‘lobby hosting’ to this event to help guide and train any volunteers in that area.

This particular event is exciting to me as it is a break from all the serious hardcore competing and training Clan Phoenix does every day. This event it is going to bring together all levels of players from the noobs to the sweats and it will be a great opportunity for people to play with others with whom they would not normally get to. The community is so important to all of us. I will certainly be promoting my clan to come and play this event, have some fun, and take a break from the highly competitive arena we are in all the time.”

Name:  de_Luca93 (Luca)

Representing:  Pop: LGBTQ+

“I’m so excited for this community event! I think it’s awesome that for the first time, there will be a fun tournament supported by BigBox with teams that are randomized. I’m super pumped to play with new people of all different levels, and if you’re on my team we’ll totally have a blast training up the week before the tourney!

The Pop: ONE community is actually the first gaming community I’ve ever been a part of and it’s crazy how many people I’ve met through this game and consider really good friends. I think a community event like this is a great way for more people to have that experience. See you in game!”

Name:  Alexandria

Representing:  Ladies of Pop 1

“We’re trying to get more women involved in the community and let men know that we’re there to play and enjoy the game.

When we all started Population: One, I personally thought there were only a couple of other women until this Discord group was made. We’re trying to get more women recognized for accomplishments in game, bring awareness to the fact that females do play Population: One, encourage them to be involved in the community on the competitive side, etc.

Editor’s note:  Alexandria is one of the community leaders for the Ladies of Pop One group and has been helping with organization of the community cup. If you’re a lady Population: One enthusiast, reach out to Alexandria#5940 or SkyCandy#0815 on the Population: One Discord server for an invite to the group.”

How to Participate

There are several ways to participate in the Population: One Community Cup. You can register as a player, offer to be a lobby host (limited positions), or join the community as we enjoy watching this fun event during the stream!

Use the following link to sign up for the summer Pop One community cup. If you’re interested in being a lobby host, speak with your community leaders.

Where to Watch

The community event will have coverage on both days that will include gameplay, highlights, and interviews. It’s going to be an exciting production highlighting the positive aspects of the Population: One community.

Players are also welcome to stream from their own perspectives and favorite clips will be compiled throughout the weekend for a highlight reel on the main channel. The production crew will be looking for great plays, but also good sportsmanship and those special moments that really feature the awesomeness of the community.


There will be prizes awarded, including a special Discord role and color for the team that works together and comes in first place.

Other prizes will be awarded and given out randomly during the Twitch stream. The purpose of this cup is to promote community engagement, positivity, and inclusiveness. Event organizers want players to have fun so we encourage everyone to join the community throughout the event and be ready to have fun, watch the games, and maybe even win a prize.

Editor’s Note:  If you’re interested in donating prizes, reach out to Hasko at [email protected] or on Discord at Hasko7#0001.

About Population: One

Population: One, a multiplayer competitive VR game from BigBox VR, is available on all major VR platforms, including Oculus Quest and Rift, HTC Vive, Windows MR and Valve Index. Connect with the community to learn more about the game, sign up for an early access program, and become part of the growth of this fantastic game.


Stack Up and VR Gamers Support Emotional Wellness of Veterans and Deployed Service Members

Isolation, job loss, and illness have impacted most everyone over the past 18 months, but the effects of Covid-19 on the population at large continue to highlight the need for concentrated support among groups that were already at increased risk of suicide and other mental health issues. Veterans and military personnel fall into this category, and VR gamers are doing their best to help improve emotional wellness of these individuals through practical support and encouragement.

Non-profit organization Stack Up brings veterans, active military, and civilian supporters together through a shared love of gaming and events such as the Onward Stack Up Tournament help fund beneficial programs, but before we delve into Stack Up and the charity VR event, let’s take a look at the challenges.

Suicide rates for veterans is 1.5 times greater than for Americans who have never served in the military and according to a report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there were over 6,000 veteran suicides each year from 2008 to 2017.

In October 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General released a watchdog report covering the first several months of the pandemic. The onset of a global tragedy led to increased isolation, fear, anxiety, financial strain, and depression. There was an uptick to the Veterans Crisis Line, and although the demand had slowed to pre-pandemic levels by May, the need for continued support remains steady.

Suicide rates have been increasing for the past 20 years among people in the United States and prior to the pandemic, just over one in ten adults (11%) reported symptoms in the first half of 2019 that were consistent with a diagnosable anxiety or depressive disorder. That number had jumped to 41% by January 2021.

Warning Signs

According to the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, many veterans at imminent risk of suicide might not show signs of an urge to harm themselves. Considering the fact that nearly half of all veterans own at least one firearm and 68% of veterans who commit suicide die from self-inflicted firearm injury (compared to 48% of non-veteran suicides), it’s important to recognize and address signs of depression or increased psychiatric illness such as:

  • Despondent, anxious, irritated most of the time
  • Poor sleep habits, sleeping much of the time or not at all
  • Decreased grooming and personal hygiene
  • Increased self-isolation from family and friends
  • Losing interest in things they used to care about, including hobbies, work, social activities
  • Expressing lack of purpose in life, feelings of guilt or shame, unresolved relationships or issues
  • Increased risk-taking behavior

Unfortunately due to isolation caused by the pandemic, we’re not always aware of the warning signs and this is where a supportive community can make a tremendous impact. Even if people aren’t seeing friends or family in physical reality, they might communicate in games or through online forums such as Discord.

VR gamers are using available tools and interacting through immersive environments, which creates friendship and trust among players. They can then encourage and support one another while simultaneously providing a safe space where people feel more comfortable asking for help.

Image credit: Stack Up

Stack Up

Founded in 2015, Stack Up helps US and Allied military service members through combat zone deployments and through recovery from traumatic physical and emotional injuries with the power of video gaming.

“People who were already isolated were further isolated during quarantine,” says Sean Kelly, Influencer Relations Manager at Stack Up.

Kelly, aka “Deity” to his gamer friends, explains that Stack Up is oriented to gaming or geek culture and those common interests bond community members.

“Elements of geek culture and video games specifically provide some relief, something else for them to focus on,” explains Kelly, who volunteered with Stack Up for nearly three years prior to joining as Influencer Relations Coordinator in 2019.

Kelly had joined the U.S. Army in 1995 as a Canon Crewmember and then worked in Military Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism. Deployed to Kuwait and Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan in 2006, he understands the issues facing veterans and active military personnel.

“Gaming is a way to spend less time thinking about the bad experiences,” says Kelly, adding that games are also a way to build a stronger connection to their military family, which is important because these people understand the unique challenges to active and veteran military personnel.

Captain Stephen Machuga, Founder and CEO of Stack Up, shares the story of how video games saved his life after he returned from Iraq. For him the particular stressor was leaving his house and seeing trash piled up for collection, which triggered memories of Iraq where insurgents would hide explosives in trash piles so there was always risk of one blowing up as you drove by.

A few weeks after Machuga returned home, he began playing the newly released World of Warcraft and he was able to focus on driving through town to jump into his next mission in game rather than being stressed by the piles of trash. In 2010 when a friend re-enlisted and was immediately shipped to Afghanistan, Machuga began sending thousands of dollars of donated games and gear to units overseas.

Image credit: Stack Up

To be clear, it’s not as if others haven’t been supportive of active military personnel, but sometimes those efforts can be a bit misdirected.

“When I was in Iraq, our infantry company received a crate full of third hand romance novels from a library,” states Machuga. “We used them for target practice on the confiscated arms range, but it was there I realized: people wanted to help veterans, but they just didn’t know what we wanted.”

Overwatch Program

There are several great programs at Stack Up that help veterans deal with the stresses of deployment as well as recovery and transition once they’ve returned home. One vital support service is the Stack Up Overwatch Program (StOP), designed to watch over the community and provide critical non-clinical peer-to-peer support through Discord, on the phone or via the app.

The StOP Squad are trained and certified to assist in crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Squad team members are HIPAA certified and conversations are kept in strict confidence. Available 24 hours a day every day of the year, the StOP Squad can provide resources, support services, or simply a safe space to talk about issues with which veterans are struggling. Services are available to anyone over the age of 18.

Supply Crates and Air Assault

In addition to the Overwatch Program, Stack Up continues to follow the example of Machuga’s initial efforts with practical support by sending care packages filled with video gaming and nerd goodies to deployed service members of the US and Allied Armed Forces.

Supply Crates provide a healthy outlet to decompress and help prevent the onset of operational stress. Rather than focusing on the tragedies around them or how many days they have left in theater, they can focus on something more positive with their battle buddies.

Image credit: Stack Up

Air Assaults are all-expense paid trips to video game and geek culture events that allow veterans to connect with others who share their interests and support them. The goal is to provide an experience the veterans can look back on with positivity and feel encouraged about the future.

This is actually how I originally learned of Stack Up when I met several veterans at Oculus Connect 5 in 2018. The event did have a positive impact on them as well as others and it was obvious that there was a mutual respect among developers, esports competitors, and veterans. People came from different backgrounds and had various roles, but we came together as a community of VR gamers.

Charity Tournament

One group that has been particularly supportive of Stack Up is the VR gaming community of Onward, a tactical mil-sim first-person shooter from Downpour Interactive. Many Onward players have actively supported military veterans and in fact the veterans I met at Oculus Connect were there to watch an esports event that featured Onward.

“We all love and support our veterans and active military. But the harsh reality is that they suffer every day with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and much more,” says F. Lapinski, Onward Stack Up Tournament organizer.

“Those who sacrificed for us are paying the price,” he adds.

The first Onward Stack Up Tournament will be held September 4-5 with all donations and entry fees going towards Stack Up. Currently there is a $2,000 prize pool with items from other supportive VR communities such as ProTube VR, VR Master League, VR Wear, Sanlaki, and The Hive/VRespawn.

There are two brackets for the event:  T-Rex for higher-skilled teams and Spinosaurus for lower-ranked teams. Additional details and rules can be found on the Onward Charity Tournament Discord server.

  • Date: September 4-5
  • Time: Begins at 2:00 pm EDT
  • Entry fee: T-Rex Bracket $20/player | Spinosaurus Bracket $10/player
  • Prizes: T-Rex  winners will receive a MagTube gunstock from ProTube VR fully customized for each player, VR Wear T-shirt, Sanlaki Table Tennis Controllers, and a custom event team jersey. | Spinosaurus winners will receive a Sanlaki gun stock and a Sanlaki Table Tennis controller, and a VR Wear T-shirt.
  • Watch live: The event will be streamed and casted through VRML Twitch channels.

You can donate directly to the Stack Up charity here.