MINNEAPOLIS -- Virtual interactions have become the norm in these pandemic-affected times, so what better time to engage with a full virtual experience?
The Twins will debut a virtual-reality Hall of Fame experience on Wednesday in partnership with Minneapolis-based REM5 STUDIOS, giving fans the ability to be immersed in a virtual Twins clubhouse in a video game-like setup and explore a 3-D environment that features exhibits for all 34 members of the Twins Hall of Fame.
You're greeted by an enormous spinning Twins logo when you enter the atrium of the wheel-shaped virtual museum, with a hallway to your left leading to a clubhouse room highlighting the faces behind the earliest era of Twins baseball. A hallway in the other direction leads to the most recent club history. There's also a third room highlighting the time in the middle -- featuring both World Series championships.
"We've always wanted to build out a physical Hall of Fame," said Chris Iles, the Twins' senior director of brand experience and innovation. "As you know, Target Field is pretty limited in terms of our footprint in and what we have in downtown Minneapolis. So having a physical space for people to go to, like, let's just build this in the virtual world and see if it works. And I think for everyone who's tried it so far, it works quite well."
The experience will be free to fans and can be accessed on any platform -- mobile, desktop or even with a VR headset. A limited number of fans will be allowed at a time into each of a series of virtual rooms that can be navigated like a real space and will feature text, automated multimedia in theater-like rooms and even 3-D rendered reproductions of memorabilia.
Even the details are well-manicured, from the textured carpets on the floor to the little museum map on a stand in the atrium to the wooden frames that protrude from the walls in the exhibits.
Fans will be able to interact with others near them via voice chat -- mimicking the experience in a real museum -- and communicate with others through a chat functionality. They'll also be able to customize their avatar by selecting from several Twins uniforms. The experience begins with a quick tutorial before fans are allowed to roam the space.
"It's really cool. It's innovation. Keeping up with the digital age, and obviously giving access to fans to these types of virtual venues and experiences, I think, is pretty cool," said Michael Cuddyer, a special guest for Tuesday's sneak peek. "I was talking about somewhere down in the future, this could be like a forum where you could walk into the film room with a group of people and watch a game. The possibilities are endless with this type of format, which I think is really, really special."
"During this pandemic, you've just got to find some kind of creativity," Torii Hunter said. "It's a testament to the Twins, who have a lot of guys in that organization that are really creative. It wouldn't shock me if they continued to advance. This is pretty cool, to give a lot of fans that kind of experience. And for us -- this is a great experience for Cuddyer and me as well."
The project has been in the works for about six months, during which time the Twins were introduced to the technology and chose ways to use the virtual space. The hope is that the Twins can continue to build on unique technological ways to engage with fans, like this one and the physical-digital hybrid BombaLand at TwinsFest 2020.
"The ultimate goal is to build something that fans are going to get really excited about and give fans something fun to do during this time," Iles said. "That's been really challenging as we're kind of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel here."
For more information about the experience, visit twinsbaseball.com/xr.