The first time I went to an arcade probably 18 years ago, I was blown away by the colors, the sounds and the sheer concept of having so many games under one roof. Now that same sight probably wouldn't excite me. It's going to take a little more to put me in awe.
What's inside one suite at the Del Amo Fashion Center mall in Torrance, California, might just do the trick. Survios VR Arcade, a virtual reality arcade with eight glass booths and more than 15 VR games opened just last week to great fanfare.
"It's incredible to be able to bring virtual reality into a mall," said Nathan Burba, CEO and founder of Survios, the VR game developer behind the brick-and-mortar. "To be able to get virtual reality to people who haven't really tried it before."
Each booth comes equipped with headsets and nunchucks. The 3,000-square-foot arcade has "experiences," like walking on the ledge of a skyscraper and games, like a multiplayer adrenaline-packed platformer called "Street Vector" that was created by Survios.
For kids like Troy Norwood, 9, who are used to playing video games on their living room floor, a first visit to a VR arcade is full of emotions.
"My favorite part is, like, when a zombie is trying to like to like go for you, it's just so scary," said Norwood. "It's like realy, but it's not real. I just can't, like, control it."
Norwood spent the better part of his video playing a game where he had to shoot zombies before they killed him. He also screamed, a lot.
VR arcades are popping up all over the country. Eight have opened in New York City alone in the last three years, according to CNBC. And researchers say the VR gaming industry is expected to grow into a $20.3 billion industry by 2020, according to SuperData Research.
"We see VR as one of the dominant entertainment platforms of the future, up there with movies and television," says Burba. "Really, it's a new immersive medium that everyone can get into and everyone can enjoy."
At Survios VR Arcade, for isntance, you can play one game for as little as $5, or get an all-day pass for $59. For reference, owning your own headset at home will run you about $500.
"Normal video games [are] good," said Norwood. "But if you're, like, in real life, and you've got that better stuff, it's like, off the chain."
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