If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to travel into space or tour the pyramids, on foot or from high above, look no further than a nondescript little storefront on Granderson Avenue in Langford.
An amazing array of experiences awaits once you step inside Flynn’s Virtual Reality, the first arcade of its kind on the West Shore.
“You can be on the Titanic, petting giraffes in Africa, hang gliding, dancing, killing zombies or be chased by dinosaurs,” said Scott Wright, owner of Flynn’s Virtual Reality, which first opened its virtually limitless doors in February.”We have more than 100 options, including many for people not into science fiction or flying through the air as a fire-breathing dragon. You can play a sport, take a roller coaster ride or walk through a haunted house. You name it, there’s really nothing you can’t do. Anyone from six and up can enjoy the experience.”
There’s a number of things that sets VR apart from regular video games, Wright noted. “Here, you’re standing up strengthening your core and using your muscles, compared to being hunched over a playing a video game. VR burns 10 calories a minute on average. It also levels the playing field for parents and their kids who’ve grown up gaming. There’s only two handheld controls that don’t require any prior knowledge of how the game works. You just put on your helmet and off you go.”
Wright has had several caregivers of autistic children come in already because they view it as a learning tool. “You can cure phobias for instance,” he explained. “If you’re afraid of spiders, for example, you go to VR and put some on your arms.”
Although simulators have been around since the 1920s when the British and Americans first started using them to train pilots, it wasn’t until the early 1960s that the experience reached a point where you could alter what was going on, Wright noted.
Although the VR experience went public in the 1980s, it was hardware dependent, required a full booth and lots of expensive equipment. “It was priced out of reach and the powers that be did a terrible job of marketing,” he said. “It really took off when software became boss around 1998 to 2000. Developers around the world could start creating their own world. A little team of six guys in Estonia could produce amazing things. The market is now open to smaller firms, and that’s what brought the price down.”
Flynn’s Virtual Reality costs $25 for one hour, and customers can include as many experiences as they want in that time frame. “We had 11 11-year-old girls in for a birthday party recently and they were dancing, doing art…they had the time of their lives.”
The arcade is open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Sessions are booked online at flynnsvr.ca/playnow.