Durham’s virtual-reality arcade gives gamers a new way to look at fun

September 22, 2017 GMT

Video gaming is a popular pasttime, but the future of gaming is still uncertain.

A business in Durham, though, thinks it’s onto something with a new kind of arcade.

William Galloway’s birthday party is venturing into the new kind of game. Galloway and his friends got together at Augmentality Labs in downtown Durham to play video games in a new way.

″(It’s) a totally immersive virtual reality arcade,” said owner Alicia Hetrick.

To Hetrick’s knowledge, it’s the first of its kind in the Triangle.

She tried virtual reality goggles at the Microsoft store and became a believer.

“It’s really the future of gaming as far as we can tell,” Hetrick said. “We just wanted to bring it to more people.”

Players put on the goggles and enter a new digital world.

“People come in, (and) they’re a little nervous, they don’t know what to expect,” Hetrick said. “We talk them through getting in the headset, getting comfy, but once they’re in there, they have a blast.”


Spectators don’t just see the person standing there with a headset on, either. People who aren’t playing can look on the TV and see exactly what the player is seeing in the goggles.

It’s a social experience that people can play along with friends in virtual worlds.

Galloway’s dad says the party was a hit.

“He’s really enjoying himself, and it looks like all the kids are, too,” Jeff Galloway said.

Hetrick said young people do a have a good time, but this is an experience for all ages.

“You cannot step into your living room and step into another world,” Hetrick said. “You can really do that with virtual reality.

Augmentalilty Labs charges by the half hour.

Hetrick says she’s looking into other kinds of virtual reality technology to add to the arcade, including an omnidirectional treadmill.