Here & now

Anyone for (virtual) tennis?

Combine your love of technology with your love of tennis and try out Virtual Reality Tennis by London Filmed, in Sheldon Square during Wimbledon fortnight

Ever wanted to hit a forehand like Rafa Nadal, or a backhand like Roger Federer? Well this Wimbledon, London Filmed are bringing you closer to the action with a VR tennis experience!

As part of Paddington Central’s Life Meets Tech summer campaign, Virtual Reality Tennis is going to be on offer alongside big-screen viewing of the world’s favourite tennis tournament.

London Filmed’s Operations Director Nick Forster and Creative Director Matt Scott explain what visitors can expect from VR Tennis.

“It’s a mixture of realistic action and arcade thrills,” says Nick. “There are a number of different shots you can play and once you build up your points, you are able to perform power moves to try and beat your opponent.”

Console fans should feel at home. “It’s similar to the Wii in that you’ve got handheld controllers, but it’s totally different in the sense of how it’s viewed and how the user feels,” says Matt. “For example, you can hear the crowd so you are completely absorbed in the atmosphere. You can move your head and see different things, such as how you are hitting the shot.

“The user wears a headset and has two hand controllers, one for throwing the ball in the air and one for playing the shots. We will be setting up two headsets so people can come along and play against their friends. We are also going to set up a leaderboard so people can see how they are doing overall.”

London Filmed, which was born out of established media agency City House Media, initially provided events filming and photography before moving into experiential areas, including VR. "We've worked with hundreds of clients at events across London providing film and photography services," says Matt, “but we are seeing an increasing interest in VR especially after exhibiting at the London Summer Event Show.

"You can do so much with VR now – it’s perfect for team-building exercises, for example, where you have to build or find things. Using the handsets and headsets people can draw or create something as a team, so they can go on explorative missions to find, say, a pot of treasure, or to defuse a bomb. One person might be responsible for the disposal while the others are watching on TV and giving advice on what to do and which wire to cut.”

VR is continuing to evolve and blur the lines between reality and simulation by immersing people beyond a visual experience.

“I visited Dubai recently, where there is a VR world called Hub Zero,” continues Nick. “Instead of a controller you have a gun in your hand which syncs with the headset, so if people fire at you and you duck, your character ducks within the game.”

Matt says the storytelling aspect of the technology can be very powerful as well. “There’s a BBC experience where you get to feel what it’s like to be on a refugee boat,” he says, “it was very upsetting. And another where you’re in the trenches in World War One and at the end you’re shot or blown up, then it delivers the message that the average lifespan of a soldier in the trenches was six weeks. Those sorts of stories have the biggest impact on me, and are the hardest to forget.”

Whatever your preference, Nick and Matt are in total agreement over the impact of VR. “Everyone who has had a go completely loves it,” says Nick. “It’s something people should definitely try. We’re sure they will enjoy it.”

  • Head to Sheldon Square on 13th and 14th July to have a go for free!