Ar­cade of the fu­ture has fi­nally ar­rived

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAMES PASLEY

A vir­tual re­al­ity gam­ing hub in Auck­land is re­defin­ing the tra­di­tional ar­cade.

The Vir­tual Re­al­ity Stu­dio in Mt Roskill, started by Jer­maine Leef, Holly White and Robert Le Grice, is of­fer­ing gamers the chance to be en­ter­tained, ed­u­cated, or to sim­ply es­cape.

The game op­tions range from watch­ing a blue whale be­neath the ocean, to de­fend­ing a cas­tle with a bow and ar­rows, to paint­ing with fire or snow.

‘‘We grew up in the era of ar­cades, we were 80s kids, so we were given the prom­ise of vir­tual re­al­ity but it didn’t hap­pen, it kind of flopped,’’ Leef said.

‘‘Now we’ve got it ready, it’s af­ford­able, we’re there.’’

Vir­tual re­al­ity or ‘‘VR’’ is a com­puter gen­er­ated sim­u­la­tion of an en­vi­ron­ment that can be in­ter­acted with, us­ing a head­set, head­phones and sen­sor-fit­ted pad­dles.

It was af­ter see­ing how ex­pen­sive vir­tual re­al­ity head­sets were in March that Leef, White and Le Grice de­cided to cre­ate a space where peo­ple could come and use them for a frac­tion of the cost of buy­ing one.

In Septem­ber the opened to cus­tomers.

‘‘When we were first re­search­ing it no one world­wide was do­ing VR ar­cades so we made stu­dio our own com­put­ers, we de­vel­oped pro­grammes,’’ White said.

‘‘There was lots of prob­lem solv­ing, and we learned a lot as we went.’’

Leef said the stu­dio’s VR head­sets were the best in im­mer­sive tech­nol­ogy and did not re­sult in mo­tion sick­ness.

‘‘Our setup al­lows for the head and ears to work to­gether prop­erly.’’

The ex­pe­ri­ence is suit­able to peo­ple aged five years and over, White said.

And if the fu­ture isn’t for you, they’ve pro­vided a ‘retro room’ with games from the 1980s and 1990s.

The stu­dio is open to the pub­lic and can be booked out for pri­vate par­ties.

The plan was to also link with vir­tual and aug­mented re­al­ity ex­perts and grow the field, White said.

‘‘No one knows which di­rec- tion we’re go­ing so we’re all just jump­ing in,’’ White said.

‘‘We’ve been set­ting the trend so now it’s about keep­ing ahead of the game,’’ Leef said.

Vir­tual Re­al­ity Stu­dio want to open stu­dios across New Zealand, mak­ing them as com­mon as ar­cades in the 1980s.

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