Virtual reality center sets opening date

April 19, 2019

A new business offering a variety of virtual reality experiences opens May 1.

Virtuality Gaming Den will have virtual reality simulation chairs, racing simulators, virtual reality chambers, a free-roam space for multiple players and a gaming station room.

“It’s limitless on what we can do. I just have to figure out what Sioux Falls wants to do,” said Kasey Wheeler, who owns the business with his wife, Gwen.

While the remodeling project began in December in a retail center at the southeast corner of 26th Street and Sycamore Avenue, Wheeler has been working in recent weeks with manager Matt Serck to set up the high-tech equipment.

Each space in the building will offer different experiences.

The VR simulation chairs in the lobby will provide an immersive experience such as a roller coaster ride or a boat tour.

“You just sit there, put the headset on and go from there,” Wheeler said. The chair vibrates, blows air and makes users feel like they’re soaring or riding along.

It’s a good experience for younger children and people who are less active, he said. Rates will be $7.50 for one rider or $10 for two.

The racing simulator area will have four or five virtual reality stations depending on how they end up fitting in the room. Users will be able to drive for fun, go head-to-head in a race or join a league for competition. Pricing hasn’t been set yet. Wheeler envisions one league with teams of families that would compete against each other. A family would be able to come in, race and then have their score ranked at the end of the month with other families in the league.

The eight chamber spaces will offer a variety of experiences with more than 100 games. Motion sensors in each corner of the almost 10-foot-by-10-foot chambers put the user’s avatar in the middle of the activity. The user wears a VR headset and holds two controllers that, for example, allow the avatar to shoot arrows at attacking monsters. Rates will be $20 for a half-hour and $35 for an hour.

The free-roam space is larger and meant for up to three users at a time.

“You see each other, and you’re walking around in a VR experience,” Wheeler said. The initial game in the room is a 20-minute one that drops the users among roaming zombies. “People love it. Every couple of months we will get a new experience in there,” he said. That rate is $15 per person.

The gaming station room will have 12 chairs for Xbox, Nintendo, PS4 and PC sets, and also serve as a party room, Wheeler said. Most of the offerings will be regular play, but some of the PS4 games will be virtual. Pricing hasn’t been set yet.

The business also plans to set up gaming leagues with prizes and offer gaming camps for kids.

Wheeler said he wants Virtuality Gaming Den to have a welcoming, family-friendly feel to it. The business will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with hours being adjusted as needed.

Because many people will be new to a virtual reality experience, the business will offer an introductory session.

“An individual or small group can come in and be instructor-led the entire way,” Wheeler said. “This would include some background on the industry, what is happening today and where we will be in the near future. This is followed up by a very high level of assisted experiences to help customers get into the headsets, do a bit of learning the virtual environments and the controls themselves, virtual tutoring and ultimately either playing a game or taking a virtual tour. At the end of the session, each participant will receive a free 30-minute session on us.”

To raise awareness, Virtuality Gaming Den also will offer mobile units and go to corporate events, parties and other gatherings. While the user is immersed in the activity, it “can be a very social and entertaining thing to watch” for others, Wheeler said.

While setting up the business has taken longer than he expected, Wheeler’s enthusiasm remains high, and he’s excited to introduce virtual reality to the community.

“I just want people to come and have fun.”

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Virtual reality center sets opening date

A new business offering a variety of virtual reality experiences opens May 1.

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