VIRTUAL reality experiences are now on offer in Taunton at Player Ready.

The entertainment venue, located above Clarks at 1 High Street, has been taking bookings since Friday, October 22 – and we visited to try some of its VR games and experiences.

Player Ready has six multiplayer VR stations loaded with dozens of games for solo and group play.

There are screens next to every station showing what the player is seeing, which helps staff see if someone is struggling to progress in their game, allows parents to see what their children are playing, and makes it more fun for spectators to watch their friends.

To offer the highest-quality VR experiences, the venue has HTC VIVE headsets connected to powerful PCs.

Player Ready says it is great for children and adults alike and provides a new option for children’s parties, stag and hen parties, and work outings in the town centre.

The first experience I tried at Player Ready was Richie’s Plank, a psychological experience designed to showcase the power of VR – something it does very effectively.

When you put on your headset, you find yourself on the pavement outside a skyscraper in a virtual city.

You then get into a lift and, using a hand-held controller, press a button labelled ‘Plank’.

Somerset County Gazette: VENUE: Experiencing virtual reality at Player Ready. The patterns on the floor and walls are reference points for the headsetsVENUE: Experiencing virtual reality at Player Ready. The patterns on the floor and walls are reference points for the headsets

The lift carries you to the top floor of the skyscraper, where you are met with a wooden plank suspended high above the street with a pumpkin at the end of it.

You are then asked to walk the length of the plank to the end (an actual wooden plank is discreetly put on the floor by a member of staff) to pick up the virtual pumpkin using the handset. 

After a very shaky walk, I made it to the end of the plank to pick up the Halloween fruit before promptly stumbling off the narrow plank and, in the virtual world, plummeting back down to the street.

Even though it is obvious that there is no genuine risk – after all, it all actually takes place in a room above a shoe shop – the technology makes the experience of walking the plank feel very real.

John Tingley, who works at Player Ready, says watching guests try Richie’s Plank is one of his highlights.

He said: "I like to show people how intense VR can be and how it can play with your head.

"Part of your brain knows that you’re on the floor above a shoe shop, but another part of your brain’s going, 'No you’re not! You’re 100 stories up on a tiny plank!'"

He added: "We try to add to people’s experience of VR, not just put them in headsets.

"Anyone can just put someone in a headset. We try and go a little step further."

I also had the opportunity to try a zombie shooter game called LA Deadzone.

The game allows players to walk the virtual streets of Los Angeles after it has been ravaged by an unknown virus that has left thousands of undead people roaming the streets.

The aim of the game is to work as a group to progress through different environments to try and escape the city while fighting off zombies.

At the start of the game, players choose their avatar, which is what their fellow players will see them as through their headsets while they are playing.

The headset makes the game fully immersive, meaning players must be alert to the threat of zombies approaching them from the front, back and sides.

Although the game can be played solo, this aspect of it makes it ideal for a group, as players will need to protect and cover each other to survive. 

Much like playing a non-VR console game, there is a definite sense of satisfaction that comes with making it through a level or from a series of well-aimed shots using the handheld controllers.

Alongside Richie’s Plank and the zombie experience, Player Ready offers games aimed at children, around 15 themed virtual escape rooms, a free-roam VR arena for games like laser tag, and racing simulators.

Speaking about the launch of Player Ready in Taunton, John said: "It’s been going very well.

"We like to start off slowly and then it seems to promote itself through word-of-mouth because of the reception people give us after they’ve been here.

"People go away, and they tell their friends.

"A lot of the time, they’re on their phones, showing their friends what their children are doing, or what their friends are doing."

Player Ready also has venues in Cornwall, Plymouth, and Portsmouth.

The company initially started life in Turkey with a few VR headsets before opening its first UK venue above a roller-skating rink in Truro and expanding into new towns and cities.

For more information or to book, visit