A Kingston store that bills itself as the city’s first virtual reality gaming experience is hoping to cash in on a growing interest in the phenomenon.
The VR Hut is Kingston’s first VR gaming experience. It might look like an arcade, but its owner, Darren Bishop, doesn’t like that term.
For him, offering virtual reality enthusiasts the opportunity to play the latest games was a no-brainer, because of how expensive it is to install virtual reality in your home.
“We’re talking $3,000 to $5,000,” Bishop said. “I felt that there was a need to be able to expand and really have a spot for people to come in and experience VR.”
Gone are the days of the eight-bit Atari and countless other gaming systems — while virtual reality seems to be gaining traction.
“It immerses you in a way that regular games can’t,” avid gamer Blake Gozzard said. “It actually feels like you’re in there, no matter how good the quality of other games is you never feel like you’re in the world.”
But with so many companies getting in on the action, is it really the next big thing, or just a fad?
“I think it’s got a lot of potential,” said Dr. Nicholas Graham of the Queen’s University school of computing.
Graham adds that while VR has been around in some form or another for decades, it’s really still in its infancy.
“Before this hits the mainstream there’s a couple of areas where we’re going to want to see innovation. People are actively working on these,” Graham said.
Those areas are things like “simulator sickness,” which Graham says is similar to car sickness. Another is working on the feeling of isolation between gamers and those who are around them in the real world, while they’re off in its virtual counterpart.
The VR Hut opened for business in August 2017 and is open Thursdays through Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.