(featured pic courtesy of TheVerge.com)

The 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s were the golden age for video game arcades which have virtually vanished from American popular culture these days. Across the nation it used to be common to walk into a shopping mall and find a loud and glitzy gaming arcade strategically positioned next to or near the frequented food court for premium foot traffic. Nowadays, thanks to online gaming and home consoles, you’d have to visit a theme park or a Dave and Busters to find anything close to the arcades of old. But the growth of virtual reality could blow a bit of air back into that arcade bubble.

For those of us old enough to remember arcades, walking into a Dave and Busters is a bit of a tease. Sure, you’ve got a bunch of games there but most of them are prize ticket spewing carnival style games. You’ve also got your racers, light guns, dancing, and puzzle games… but where are your flat out button mashers? Your fighters? Your sports games? Your pinball machines?

Dave and Busters Vernon Hills

Ok, so you probably won’t see an uptick of those kinds of machines like we had back in the day but the dawn of virtual reality IS upon us. Why does that matter you ask? Given the status of the virtual reality tech, users need a dedicated room or space for moving around abit (or at least for the VR treadmills or seats). Toss in either sensors and/or an new VR PC (for optimal graphic quality) and various controllers and you could be looking at thousands of dollars to get into top flight VR experiences.

In steps the arcade concept. Much like looking at a Star Wars Battle Pod, VR setups are the prime tech for LAN party stores or just flat out VR arcades. In Dayton, Ohio, one entertainment center called Scene75 is tacking on 10 HTC Vive stations onto their menu that includes go-karts and laser tag. Other spaces in D.C., Utah, and probably elsewhere pretty soon are to open up with goals of renting gaming time as well as even selling VR packages to consumers.

vr-refresh-trial-headset

“But why can’t I just buy a Playstation VR?”

Glad you asked!

The home-based Playstation VR units are probably considered mid-grade VR. While the tech is nice and the move controllers work well, I’m certain there is nothing like getting into a high tech VR treadmill experience! The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift tech are the top of the line VR experiences and that is the realm that VR arcades will live. Hopefully, we’ll even see more VR Attractions like The Void in Utah and New York City.

slimer

Still, opening up spaces like this in malls across the country seems to be a decent idea. Due to the possibilities of VR sickness, you probably won’t have players staying there for more than 30 minutes at a time unless they are spectating another player (which can be entertaining as well!). Also, the whole VR industry is truly waiting for that ‘must-play’ killer app that will drive the general public their way. You would think a place like The Void and its Ghostbusters app would be the one to do the trick, but given the early stages of VR game development, I’m certain it regularly goes through changes and improvements to randomize the experience a bit.

In this writer’s mind that is key. Providing a game that is fun to play and yet different every time you enter the experience is huge. Imagine playing the award winning game Skyrim or even an MMO in VR? Trust me, if Blizzard found a way to make a VR version of World Of Warcraft, we could be looking at another cause for gaming addiction centers world-wide my friends!

Stay plugged in as we continue to explore the amazing possibilities of VR!