Like the real Smash Party, Smash Party the virtual reality game is just fun. The virtual bat feels good and responsive, the world is bright and colorful, and the physics are floaty enough for you to swat mugs out of the air, but still feel satisfied by it. In its simplicity, it sidesteps many issues larger, more ambitious VR games face, like risk of motion sickness, complicated control schemes and a lack of accessibility for non-gamers. It is, if nothing else, a fun little party game.
“There’s like this cave man part of you that you don’t get to exercise in society,” Prynoski said. “Smashing the shit out of something is something that’s frowned upon by society, but if you could do it, like, you really get that. It’s a real visceral kind of [catharsis].”
The benefits of VR smashin’
The game has at least one advantage over the real thing: it’s much less dangerous. Prynoski had plenty of cautionary tales from over the years, like when (back in the days when the party was held in a basement) a drunk guest punched through a TV screen and approached a woman in a nurse costume seeking first aid. (He later admitted it was his fault for getting too drunk, Prynoski said.)
Then there was the time, years later, when a thrown axe almost landed in the crowd. “Building the cage [in the parking lot] was good, and then we put the fine mesh screen around the edges so little bits and pieces don’t come out,” Prynoski said. “But I remember somebody like, hurling an axe at a TV and it bouncing off the TV and — initially we didn’t have a roof to the cage, so it bounced off and it’s spinning around, and everybody kind of looked up like [gasp], like thinking it might go into the audience. And then it didn’t, it landed on the ground, and I remember turning to one of our other employees who was next to me, I was like, ‘We’ve gotta get a roof on this thing next year.’”
Those experiences all added up to the waiver guests sign when they enter the party. “We had to compile a lot of things from like, you know, skydiving, skiing, paintball, looked at all these things that are like dangerous things,” Prynoski said, “and basically had to compile a lot of legal language from those to make this waiver happen.”
You won’t need to sign a waiver to play Smash Party when it releases later this year on Steam. Because if you’re going to destroy a bunch of old TVs, furniture and kitchen appliances, you might as well save some paper in the process.