By Roel Godinez
Friday, June 28, 2019, marked the grand opening of a new arcade in Vista called Warrior VR Arcade. Much like the average arcade, it aims to attract new players and to engage them in exciting video games all while preserving a friendly communal setting. However, what sets Warrior VR Arcade apart from the typical arcade is that there are very few coin-operated machines. Instead, this business provides a state-of-the-art gaming experience by offering patrons the use of their immersive virtual reality gear for a flat, hourly rate.
“I was initially going to open up an escape room,” said owner Andre Carter. “I always liked the idea of escape rooms, but there isn’t any community build; people can only drop into an escape room a couple of times before it gets boring. I want a community where I know people’s faces and I can just say, “Hi, how are you doing?” Virtual reality became a perfect fit for me because you can have e-sport tournaments, virtual fitness clubs, and even virtual escape rooms.”
Equipped with both Vive headsets and Alienware Aurora R8 PCs, Warrior VR Arcade can put its customers into incredibly immersive virtual worlds. Users are able to experience top of the line equipment without having to pay the enormous cost to personally own it. This VR technology places the headset wearer into three dimensional situations and tracks head movements to perfect the illusion. The available programs range from free flight, to medieval archery, to space stations, to any surreal area.
Ever since the late 1900s, technology buffs have been trying to craft a streamlined, interactive device that could transport a user into a variety of digital settings. Many prototypes have been created and scrapped, hindered by setbacks such as low resolution and poor head tracking. However, as innovation has progressed through the digital revolution, the necessary software and hardware have become so well developed that the VR headsets can be privately owned by businesses and individuals alike. This is not to say that it is anywhere close to complete, it is still being developed and improved constantly with new models being consistently released. As it advances, it is being used progressively more for both entertainment and functional purposes.
“The Air Force has used virtual reality to cut training costs in half,” said Carter. “Instead of putting someone in an actual plane for a few million dollars, they can throw them into virtual reality where they can fly and crash at no cost. Virtual reality is here and it’s still coming. It has so much potential. Some therapists are using this technology to actually treat phobias. So if you’re afraid of spiders or heights or anything like that, there are a number of programs out there that allow you to get close to your fears without any actual danger. The therapist can talk you through it and help to dampen that fear.”
To understand why the virtual reality experience is so profound, one must actually put on the headset. The inside of the facemasks, which sits just in front of the eyes, resemble the ocular lenses that can be found in the back of a pair of binoculars. These lenses allow the user to see the screen, but none of the screens surrounding housing. Even when moving one’s eyes, the view is absolute. While using the headset, the user also wields two controllers that control surroundings and interact with the virtual world. Both the movement of the headset and the controllers are tracked and complete the immersive experience.
“We recognize where the future of virtual reality will go, and all the possibilities that come with it,” said Carter. “We are excited to be introducing more than just a fun gaming experience, our vision is to share the future of VR technology to the San Diego community.”
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