It’s Friday afternoon and Arcadia is buzzing.
As neon flashes off the muraled walls, the air crackles with laughter, shouts, and even the occasional scream.
A dad lounges on a leather coach, grinning as he watches his son battle virtual zombies. Not far off, a young girl, decked out in a headset and rumble vest, looks to the ceiling, her mouth agape.
“Wow,” she says breathlessly, as a giant whale only she can see glides by.
The rest of the arcade’s nine virtual reality rooms are occupied by everyone from young kids to grown men, darting and ducking as they play through all manners of adventure.
Erik Madsen owns Arcadia, which is Kelowna’s newest virtual reality arcade.
Virtual reality technology has always been on the cutting-edge, but Madsen says it’s taken off in the last couple of years, and has finally reached a point where it can provide a truly immersive experience.
“Until you experience VR, you can’t understand how incredible and realistic the experience is,” he says. “Trying to walk out on a plank 100 stories above the ground, for example, kicks your adrenaline in big time. We spared no expense to provide the user with state of the art equipment run by the fastest computers custom built to ensure the best possible experience for our customers.”
Slipping on one of Arcadia’s headsets plunges you into a dinosaur-infested island, a dark sewer crawling with zombies, or even some of the world’s most famous museums.
With more than 60 games available, Arcadia has one of the largest libraries in the country. Madsen says it’s that selection that has made it so absolutely anyone can enjoy the VR experience.
“We’ve got something for everyone: from fast-paced shooters to something as tame as a virtual reality museum, where you get to experience great works of art like Michelangelo’s David or the Mona Lisa.” he says. “You can even get right up to the Mona Lisa without security tackling you–that in itself is pretty incredible.”
The technology also allows multiple people to join in the same game, competing against one another or exploring together. You can even be in totally different physical locations and still play together.
“People have this idea that virtual reality is just video games, like you’re sitting on a couch and not socializing, but this is completely different,” he says.
“You’re active, you’re up, you’re dodging bullets, and you’re playing with your friends. This is a very social experience.”
Arcadia has also done everything it can to make the experience as social as possible.
The virtual reality rooms are three sided, with the fourth “wall” completely taken out, so your friends can be a part of the experience, too. The rooms also fan out around a central set of comfy, leather couches, creating a communal atmosphere.
There’s even a separate party room that large groups can rent for birthdays and other functions.
“I don’t think we’ve had a single person walk away from this and be upset with the experience,” Madsen says.
Right now, Arcadia is selling gift certificates, which Madsen says are perfect for gifts or other occasions. For more information on Arcadia or virtual reality, check them out online.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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