Sandbox VR in San Mateo is AMAZING!

Sandbox VR in San Mateo (San Francisco)

Sandbox VR is located in Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo. The space they occupy is small, but the technology is huge! The Sandbox VR setup is advanced. It is far more advanced than your average Oculus owner would setup. With a truss (like you might see at a stage setup that hold the lights) lined with sensors and cameras on one side of the room, and a green painted walls and floor, this feels as close to a Hollywood movie set as I'll ever get. The moment I stepped into the room, I was ready to play VR.

I haven't done anything quite as advanced as Sandbox VR, but Personally, the only type of VR I've experienced is the cardboard setup by Google that utilized your phone as the screen. That itself was cool given the lack of up front investment needed, however it was brutally clear after a couple minutes that I was developing a headache using Google Cardboard. And though its not virtual reality with actively painted visuals, I've done many rides that amusement parks such as Universal Studio in Orlando that are 3D based with non-active glasses that also ended up giving me a bad headache. So my track record with altering reality has never ever worked. However, my experience with Sandbox VR produced no headaches (and I didn't need to take any motion sickness pill or any other medication).

There are two rooms that can each support two different simultaneous games. One of the rooms can support a VR game up to six people and the other can support a VR game up to 4 people. Each session lasts one hour. Of that hour, actual VR gameplay lasts about 30 minutes. The rest of the time is dedicated to setup. There's lots of gear to put on. Straps on your ankles, straps on your wrists, one vest, a computer backpack, and the headset. And when you're all done, you have to take it all off. The end of game process is faster, but they save time for Sandbox VR employees to spray clean the gear. For one hour session, it costed $42 per person in June 2019. Reservations should be made online to lock in your date.

The game play for Amber Sky was pretty amazing. Don't expect graphics like modern PC games, but they're much better than simple shapes seen on VR example videos on YouTube. The graphics are convincing and after only 10 minutes of gameplay, you are full immersed in the experience for the remaining 20 minutes. Despite being a full 30 minutes, the time flies and before you know it is over.

After you're done, SandBox VR will automatically email you group with a video that can be easily shared with social media. The free video is a nice feature, but it doesn't contain that much actual gameplay video, which was a bit of a disappointment. Of the on average minute long video, you'd be lucky to see 5-10 seconds of us actually playing. The rest is automatically generated or pre-canned footage with custom text. To me, not worth sharing online.

The most common way I've heard of Sandbox VR is word-of-mouth from friends who have done it via team building events. However, in my opinion, if you're team is larger than ten people, then Sandbox VR might not be the best fit. You'll have to wait around for an hour while you watch others play. Other than wander the mall, there isn't much else to do.

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