Tired of Brexit and Boris Johnson? I’ve found the perfect way to escape – Hayley Matthews

If reality of the general election or just daily life gets too much, virtual reality can help you get away from it all by fighting space aliens or just lying on a sun lounger in the Costa del Sol, writes Hayley Matthews.

Saturday, 14th December 2019, 6:00 am
We should be encourarging coding, VR and gaming as much as we do sport and the arts. Picture: Getty

We tend to moan at our kids for having too much screen time but I have to say I think tech, computers and gaming can be so important for our children’s generation and should be embraced in a positive way.

Coding, VR and all things gaming seem to be taking off and with a VR headset on the Santa list (looking for a second-hand one if anyone’s selling) I thought we should go see what all the fuss was about.

After researching I found that Gorgie Road boasts the No. 1 rated venue on TripAdvisor for “fun and games” in Edinburgh with The Realm VR raking up impeccable five-star reviews, and after hearing that Scotland’s most successful gaming software developer’s offspring has been there for a birthday party I thought we’d join the club.

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Ironically the building that the VR arcade sits in was where I had my first job back in 1996 so I felt a bit emotional taking Harris there (the circle of life and all that). It was also my first sacking – “for thinking I was a Spice Girl” (I know, could you imagine HR having a ball with that one today!?). We went in to have a look around and see about having a birthday party there ourselves. Harris has watched more YouTube videos on VR than I’ve had cups of coffee so is all clued-up on the latest games but was still keen to experience it. He had a go and his reaction to fighting off space aliens was priceless. I can’t laugh as I’m still recovering from the haunted house experience – seriously, it was brutal but in a fun way!

It got me appreciating how lucky we are to have such creative and fun venues in Edinburgh and especially in the tech sector. I think we need to encourage things like coding, VR and gaming just as much as we do sport and the arts.

I was chatting to Darren who runs the arcade and we discussed how VR is interactive and active so a nice change for those who slouch on the sofa for a thumb workout with their Xbox.

How great to see kids get seriously active and educational with technology and not just kids, but I imagine people of all ages get the benefits of spending some time in the VR world. We tend to moan about limiting screen time but let’s be realistic, as long as there is a balance in our children’s life then surely it can be a positive. I think this is the most excited for a party my son has ever been. What a great time to be a kid – my highlight birthday party was a pizza-making class at Richard’s Caprice in Portobello and I’m sure I dropped it on the floor.

The kids are so lucky to have this kind of tech and it’s so accessible. After an hour in the place, I couldn’t get Harris out and had to bribe him with a milkshake. He’s already ring-fenced his Christmas money to spend on going back and I’m sorry to the parents in advance for the onslaught of the “Can I have a party here?” barrage. We’ve put the hints out to the family about gift vouchers for the place to keep us going through the holiday period, so if you’re struggling for ideas I can’t think of any kid that would screw their face up at the idea of fighting off space aliens – because, let’s be honest, who wants to spend any more money on plastic Minecraft figurines?

I can see the appeal because it’s sheer escapism from the Brexits and Borises of this world so if you see me lying on the floor with a headset on – leave me alone. I’ll be in the Costa del Sol on a sun lounger by the pool!