The stadium roars. Fans chant your name. You feel fresh grass under your feet as you step up to the plate, hold your breath and try to knock one out of the park. For many baseball fans, whether they’re Red Sox, Cubs, or (god forbid) Blue Jays, this is they’re dream. But, it’s a dream out of their reach. Until now. One company is virtually revolutionizing baseball with … virtual reality.
Real baseball zone lets you and your friends rent a virtual batting cage. The batting cages come with a screen where the stadium, pitcher and baseball field are projected. As the virtual pitcher on the screen winds up to throw a pitch, behind the screen a mechanical pitching machine winds it gears. And, as the pitcher releases, the pitching machine pitches a ball through a hole cut in the screen, simulating a real pitch in a real game. This allows to play a game of baseball with each other in a virtual environment.
It might seem a little complicated but let me explain. At real baseball zone’s reception you can choose your difficulty level, from college all the way up to Major League Baseball. We chose to play minor league. None of us were what you would call “seasoned pros.” I would recommend this level to anyone who has limited baseball experience and just wants to have fun with their friends.
Once we selected our level, the staff showed us to our room. Every room has a dug out area and a batting cage. In the dug out section, players can grab helmets, gloves and and shin guards. There is also a touch screen computer that allows you to change the positions of the virtual players in the infield and outfield and change other game tactics.
Batter up! My friend steps up to the plate, adjusts his gloves, taps his heels with the end of his bat. Then, he steps on a yellow, metal footpad behind him. A whistle blows. The pitcher winds up … and hurls a pitch through the hole in the screen. Swing and a miss. My friend loosens up, twists his hips, stretches. He steps back to the plate and presses the yellow footpad. Whistle. Pitcher winds up. The pitch. HIT! The ball bounces off the green turf, smacks into the screen and transforms into a virtual basball and sputters along the virtual infield. The virtual shortstop scoops the ball and chucks it to the virtual first baseman. OUT! My shouts some unrepeatable words at the virtual pitcher, steps out of the batting cage and hands the bat off to the next batter.
But there is another feature to the virtual baseball game that has yet be mentioned, a performance enhancement substance policy granted by real baseball zone that could lead to a new era of baseball if adopted by the major leagues around the world … BYOB. Let it be said, dehydration was not a factor in our performance. But by the end of the night, coordination and balance was. Real baseball zone allows you to bring any and all alcohol.
For us this created a fun and relaxed atmosphere as we watched each other take turns grounding balls and screaming at our virtual teammates. There are special extraction fans installed in the dugout to allow smoking.
After a few beers and many trips to the batting cage (mostly unsuccessful) our game was at an end. Luckily I found myself on the winning side, though I think this was perhaps more down to my team than myself.
Our game lasted about an hour. But, you pay for the game, not the time. With more experienced baseball players who are less prone to swing wildly at any and every pitch, you could probably play for much longer. Although pricing is a little expensive, it was well worth it in my opinion. I would recommend playing with a group rather than our teams of two vs. two, four total. For us, the time between batting was very short. I’d strike out. Then, my friend hit a grounder that got an out. Then, I struck out. End of inning.
The English level of the staff wasn’t too high but you should be able to make out what you want by pointing to the signs. If you like baseball or even just group activities with friends, this is right up your street and will not disappoint.