Seven years ago, before I was even a Tokyo resident, a local friend booked a surprise experience for me. With no clues other than a cursory quip of “it’s something you’d be into,” I soon found myself in Odaiba at the entrance of Tokyo Joypolis’ Zero Latency virtual reality booth. Six participants including myself were ushered in, each strapped with a 4-kilogram pack on our backs and a 2-kilogram gun thrust into our hands.

The room we were in, completely barren, would soon transform before my VR headset-wearing eyes into an apocalyptic world filled with zombies. The sights before me, the sounds playing via the headset and the weight of the equipment definitely gave the experience a sense of realism. The most mind-blowing moment, though, was being able to take an elevator up to a second floor inside the game — and my brain processing the sensation of actually riding it — while remaining physically within a single-story space.