By Trisha Lala
Think of your favorite bar: Is it a lowkey locale with a fantastic menu? Is it a barely lit bar with a great sound system? Or is it a very humid basement location that could use some more airflow and is packed to the brim on 90’s night (I think we all know where I’m talking about)? A good bar can improve your mood and set the tone for your night by providing you a great experience.
A recent trend for bars is to include activities for their patrons. Some bars now have board games, video games, bingo, bocce ball, bowling, shuffleboard, pool, and arcade games. What could be more fun than being out at a bar where you can enjoy the company of others while playing a game? The Revery is Atlanta’s first adult-only virtual reality bar, conveniently located in Midtown near Ponce City Market. The Revery has revolutionized what you can expect on a night out.
Owners Vincent Wynn II and Michael Rudolph were inspired by Korean karaoke rooms. The Revery’s goal is to create a fluid social atmosphere where its patrons can enjoy ambience with great lighting, music, a full stage, amazing (my friends and I would say, dangerous) drinks, all while friends take turns playing virtual reality games!
For $40/hour a group of up to 6 (although larger rooms accommodate more people for a higher rate) can take turns playing virtual reality games. Does this sound boring for those not playing the game? Hardly! The rest of the group can listen to fantastic music by local DJ’s, sip yummy cocktails and chat while a friend makes a fool of themselves playing one of the many games they offer. The games are for any skill level and range from combat games to sports, with new games circulating in regularly!
In addition to this jovial application, virtual reality has many practical clinical uses. VR Therapy, also known as Virtual Reality Immersion Therapy, a form of exposure therapy,can be used to treat fear disorders, such as PTSD. Emory’s own Dr. Barbara Rothbaum has found that this technology is an accurate way to trigger responses of the limbic system.Upon use of this technology, patients display increased cortisol levels and higher heart rate. This technology can also treat autism, stroke patients, and help train soldiers. And now, this powerful technology can even make a night out a little more interesting.
It is fascinating to think how this technology affects our experiences on a night out. How are our brains affected by virtual reality? Virtual reality has been found to activate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The DLPFC is thought to reflect the experience of “presence”. Presence refers to “subjective feeling of being in a virtual environment while being transiently unaware of one’s real location and surroundings and of the technology that delivers the stream of virtual input to the senses” (Jäncke et al, 2009). The DLPFC, which receives combined inputs from a variety of structures, integrates the sensory input that VR provides and creates a subjective experience.
Perhaps the most alluring aspect of VR technology is how it can be uniquely designed for each patient. For example, patients with anxiety disorders can show a range of phenotypes and VR provides the platform to individually treat each patient.
The burgeoning research in this field reflects its great utility. VR must also activate the hippocampus as we generate spatial and episodic memories. In fact, the Singer lab (shout out to Nuri Jeong, Steph Prince, Lou Blanpain, and our Editor-in-Chief Kristie Garza, members of this amazing lab) uses augmented reality to understand the neural correlates of learning and memory (virtual reality is a fully immersive experience while augmented reality is a visual enhancement of reality)!
As technology shapes our daily experiences more and more, it is interesting to think about how our social lives and activities will also be constructed by technology in the coming future. I am even more excited to see how this technology will be utilized to treat patients as more is learned about how it affects the brain. But in the meantime, check out the Revery VR bar and have a great time!
Follow the Revery VR on instagram: @revery_vr !
Jancke L, Cheetham M, Baumgartner T (2009) Virtual reality and the role of the prefrontal cortex in adults and children. Front Neurosci 3:52-59.