Joshua Fendley is a self-described virtual-reality skeptic. But he’s also a Star Wars fanboy, so when he learned that there was a Star Wars VR experience in Las Vegas in July—the same month he had to visit the Strip for his boss’s wedding—he had to check it out.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire cost $36 and lasted about 15 minutes, during which Fendley visited the volcanic planet Mustafar while disguised as a stormtrooper  to gather imperial intelligence. His vest, connected to a computer he carried on his back, vibrated when he was hit by enemy fire.

There were special effects, like heat, wind, and a burning scent, and virtual objects mapped to real-world ones, like a blaster he could actually hold in his hands. At one point, he says, he reached out to touch a VR droid and felt it in real life.

The experience blew his mind. “I could have stayed in that little world forever,” he says.

“It was really cool.” Fendley’s virtual voyage took place inside a real-world outpost of the Void, a company based in Lindon, Utah, that’s setting up locations devoted solely to VR where groups of people can play together. Since 2016, the company has opened eight of them, mostly in the US but also in Toronto, London, and Dubai, and it has plans to open more before the year is up. Read more from…

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