Darren Johansen tried out a virtual reality (VR) experience at Headcase VR in Campbell River. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Darren Johansen tried out a virtual reality (VR) experience at Headcase VR in Campbell River. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

GOING THE EXTRA MILE: Virtual reality arcade overcomes limitatons to experiencing the VR experience

When Darren Johansen came into Campbell River’s new virtual reality (VR) arcade with his kids, he could only sit back in his wheelchair and watch them have fun.

He couldn’t strap on one of Headcase VR’s headsets and share the experience because the gaming technology was out of reach for a person like Johansen who has only limited use of his hands.

He asked the staff at Headcase, located at 220 Dogwood St., if there was anything he could do. They sadly informed him that the games all required the use of hand controllers.

“I asked them if there was anything I could do, if I could play games,” Johansen said. “And they said ‘okay, if you can move your fingers and stuff’ and I’m, well, I can’t do that.”

Johansen has only limited use of his hands that can operate his wheelchair but not the hand controllers of the latest craze in gaming technology. So, Johansen was seemingly out of luck.

However, that wasn’t good with the Headcase staff and one employee, Trent Koecher in particular, wasn’t satisfied with the situation. He figured there has to be some way Johansen can enjoy the technology. So, he ‘took his work home with him’ and hit the Internet in search of applications that did not require the use of hand controls.

“I felt really bad because we didn’t have anything he could experience,” Koecher said. “I didn’t want to let that stand.”

His perseverance paid off because he was able to find and download a program called Virtual Desktop that would work on Headcase’s VR sets.

“It will allow you to watch any video inside of the headset as if you’re sitting in a big theatre,” Koecher said. “It also allows 360-degree viewing of the videos that were filmed with those cameras and they’ve got lots of cool experiences.”

He called Johansen and told him he could set him up on a headset and he could enjoy these videos. Now, Johansen can experience an undersea scuba dive or go on a roller coaster and experience virtual sky diving. These applications don’t require controllers. They allow the participant to practically feel like they’re having the experience.

“I figured out a way we could get a program in and watch 360-degree VR videos that don’t require the use of controllers,” Koecher said. “It’s just a pure visual experience.”

Which is powerful for Johansen, a former logger and an active person. Being able to experience the thrill of a roller coaster again and the feeling of motion under the sea is exciting.

“I came in next (time) and he had a roller coaster ride set up for me where it honestly feels like you’re in the roller coaster,” Johansen said. “Like, you’re making the turns. It was an unbelievable experience.

“Obviously I can’t go in a roller coaster any more but it felt like you were actually in the roller coaster itself. It was a cool experience.”

Johansen was a gamer before his accident and uses a computer but had never experienced VR technology. When he heard about the Headcase arcade from his son who wanted to check it out he was thinking old fashioned arcade with games and a pocket full of quarters.

“And I came into the place and said ‘Where are all the games at,” Johansen said.

Johansen is a C5 quadriplegic resulting from a car accident in 2009.

“I was a heli-logger and did tree climbing so I was pretty fit and pretty strong,” Johansen said.

So, it was exciting to experience thrilling activities once again.

“It was an adrenalin rush, it was unbelievable,” he said.

Johansen greatly appreciates the work that Koecher put in to make this all happen. He worked all night to find and adapt applications that Johansen can use.

“He worked overnight and got it going for me,” Koecher said.

Do you know an individual, organization or business that Went The Extra Mile for somebody? Let us know about it by emailing editor@campbellrivermirror.com or call Alistair Taylor at 250-287-9227.

 

Darren Johansen tried out a virtual reality (VR) experience at Headcase VR in Campbell River. The new VR arcade took up the challenge of making VR accessible to a person like Johansen who has only limited use of his hands. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Darren Johansen tried out a virtual reality (VR) experience at Headcase VR in Campbell River. The new VR arcade took up the challenge of making VR accessible to a person like Johansen who has only limited use of his hands. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Victoria’s economy is expected to bounce back fairly easily, according to a new report from BMO Capital Markets released April 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria in good position to bounce back post-pandemic, says BMO

City’s smaller size, lower COVID-19 caseload and diverse industry base bode well

This photo shows the aftermath of recent trimming by crews hired by BC Hydro. A spokesperson for BC Hydro says crews trim trees for safety not esthetics, while also noting that it will work with owners of trees wherever possible. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
BC Hydro says safety guides tree removal policy

Crown corporation says it will work with property owners wherever possible

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

Alex Mah of Chemainus spends a sunny day at Kin Beach reading to daughter Beatrice Mah. 3. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Vancouver Island’s mini-summer poised to fade

Cooler and damper this weekend, summer-like conditions not likely to return until late June

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Victoria police arrested three men following a double stabbing April 19. The two victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Three arrested after double stabbing in Victoria

Two people sent to hospital after being stabbed, hit with bear spray

A convicted sex offender, whose crimes included offences against children, was arrested at Gonzales Beach after the man was spotted by an off-duty officer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Convicted sex offender arrested at Gonzales Beach

After committing crimes involving children, offender barred from public beaches, being in proximity to kids

Most Read