Brussels, 14 February 2020 - On Thursday evening in the heart of the Anspach Gallery, Telenet opened its new virtual reality venue “The Park, in attendance of Philippe Close, the Mayor of Brussels, Fabian Maingain, Elderman in charge of economy and Smart city in Brussels and Pierre Hermant (CEO finance&invest.brussels). It is an innovative concept that totally immerses the visitor in a virtual world covering an area of more than 1,000 m². With The Park, Telenet wants to meet the growing demand for new interactive entertainment experiences. In The Park, visitors can roam freely and untethered, wearing a VR headset and a backpack with sensors, in a totally fictional world where they are the heroes. The Brussels venue will officially open to the public on 17 February.
Launched in June 2018 in Antwerp, The Park is far more than just a playground: it’s a proper concept. Whether in Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk or now in Brussels, the experience is the same everywhere: a vast site entirely devoted to virtual reality, divided into several playing fields with their own games, distinctive cozy look, and always the same uncanny experience of reality. The Park is a “phygital entertainment” concept on the crossroads between the physical and the digital. It allows visitors to move about in an unobstructed space without being hemmed in or tethered by wiring of any kind, allowing even more freedom of movement and sensations, equipped with a VR headset and a backpack containing a mini computer and fitted with sensors.
More specifically, the gamers move around side by side in a circumscribed space and surrounded by infrared cameras that record the spatial position of the headset. The computer in the backpack communicates its position to a central server over WiFi, instantly generating an image for each headset. This operation is repeated over a hundred times per second, and translates each person’s movements with the utmost accuracy. A camera integrated in the headset translates the movements of the fingers into virtual movements.
The Park is a corporate venture of Telenet and 9.5 Magnitude Ventures, a Belgian venture capital fund that numbers finance&invest.brussels (formerly SRIB) among its shareholders. This partnership system allows large companies to support the rapid growth of small businesses that originate innovative projects, in an autonomous and agile manner. This structure is particularly suited to The Park, which must be able to evolve with the necessary flexibility and dynamism on the fast-developing market of virtual reality.
John Porter, CEO of Telenet: “Virtual reality is in full expansion and is the future of immersive entertainment, which combines interactivity and the power of technology. Its possibilities are enormous, and we firmly believe in its innovation potential. For us, a presence in Brussels was a must, and we took the time to find the ideal location. In the Anspach Gallery, we are in the heart of the city between the pedestrian area, the Bourse and the Monnaie: we couldn’t do better than that! We know that Telenet is not so well-known yet in Brussels, and with this project we want to show the people of Brussels that, besides being a telecom operator, we are a company that invests in innovative projects with an added social and economic value for Brussels. It is also a way to contribute to the “smart city” ambition expressed by the Region in its latest general policy statement.”
Pierre Hermant, CEO of finance&invest.brussels, stresses: “Having recently injected capital into the 9.5 Ventures fund, finance&invest.brussels is pleased that The Park is the first project in Brussels that has taken shape. This project, which offers a unique VR experience in the heart of Brussels, represents a great opportunity to enhance the attractiveness of the capital city and to put an innovative technology in the spotlight, with the support of a major telecom operator like Telenet.” Furthermore: “One of the pillars of our new investment strategy is to stimulate corporate venturing in Brussels, which is becoming an additional and significant source of venture capital for young innovative companies.”
Philippe De Schutter, CEO of The Park: “Since the concept was launched a year and a half ago, The Park can rightly be called a real success: we have opened sites in five Belgian cities and have plans for international expansion; we have created three games and have already received more than 90,000 visitors who have given us a very positive rating in satisfaction surveys (9.1/10). The average age of those visitors is 31 years, and 40% are women. The Belgian public are showing a keen interest, whether they be fanatical gamers or total newbies. Our aim is to reach out to the general public of all age groups, which is why we develop all our own games ourselves, taking into account the data collected from our customers. Although 43% of the participants come for team building events, the concept is just as perfectly suited for a birthday party, a hen party, or simply an evening out with family or friends. The Park is the ideal place to share special moments. And as we know that the average Brussels citizen is also game for new experiences and powerful sensations, we invite them to get out of their reality and to come and exterminate evil creatures in a breathtaking setting in the Anspach Gallery from Monday 17 February onwards.”
The new location of The Park in Brussels is open to everyone from the age of 12. It comprises a 250 m² immersion area where players are familiarized upon their arrival with the sensations of virtual reality, and four separate 50 m² spaces where teams of up to five players are then immersed in free roaming in the games The Hallow and Nano Clash. In The Hallow, the participants, armed with a crossbow, are catapulted back to the Middle Ages to combat terrifying and evil creatures. In Nano Clash, two teams (robots and humans) are pitted against each other in a futuristic world.
The company does not mean to stop there. Besides its intention to expand internationally, The Park wants to keep reinventing itself constantly, developing its technologies to stay ahead in the field of VR entertainment. “For example, The Park already allows gamers in different cities to interact in the same virtual universe: a world first. Heads up: the Park is also open to all sorts of collaboration projects with Belgian start-ups that are interested in developing other products and games in partnership”, Philippe De Schutter concludes.
Place: Boulevard Anspach 24, 1000 Brussels (entrance by the Anspach Gallery or by Rue de l’Evêque in the evening and on Sunday).
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm
Info and reservations: www.theparkplayground.be