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First Sonoma County VR Arena Launched by Epicenter

Epicenter Sports and Entertainment recently unveiled its new virtual reality (VR) arena is Sonoma County’s Santa Rosa. The newly-inaugurated venue opened its gates to VR gaming enthusiasts.

One of the immersive gaming experiences is delivered through a four-station circle platform with harnesses that encourages players to run in place. The official launch of Omni Arena, the first VR play area in Sonoma County, was marked with a competition that went on throughout the day.

Chris Teschner, who had attended the launch event with his family members, described the gaming experience being offered as ‘great’. Teschner, who played the Core Defense game for three rounds, remarked that video games have come a long way since his childhood days. The gaming arena is seated within a shiny black formation with neon green ornamentation. It has tinted windows and televisions on each of the walls, to let visitors observe the game being played and track the leaderboard scores. The arena is fitted with speakers on each of its corners to amplify the input of the player’s headsets.

The Omni Arena also contains an indoor staging set with touch-screen monitors to let visitors sign up for accounts and track their progress. Gamers can also see tutorials on the screens whilst in line for their session. They can also wear specialised shoe covers containing built-in sensors to track foot movement. Epicenter inaugurated the virtual reality arena with four VR games. One of these puts players in a world infested with zombies, whilst another is a military shooter. All the games can be experienced individuality or as part of teams. Players have to pay 70 chips, equivalent to $12, with prepaid cards for each gaming round.

A kid is playing games in VR. Image source: Pressdemocrat

The entertainment venue also features a trampoline park, a bowling alley, and several other indoor sports options. According to Brad Bergum, Epicenter Controller, the centre was already exploring the prospect of introducing a VR offering. Players in the VR arena are required to use their body for the games, including the times when they are running to safety. It is an example of how video game technology, which has been mostly restricted to chairs and couches, is now demanding users to exhibit athleticism.

Begum explained the experienced in greater detail, saying observers can see that gamers’ hands and legs are on the move, and they are left sweating by the time the game session ends. According to him, the venue ties in athletic performance and virtual reality quite well.

The Omni Arena which cost $140,000, was developed by leading VR technology innovator Virtuix. According to the company’s website, it is responsible for developing the 360-degree motion platform that keeps users from hitting walls. About four thousand Virtuix platforms have been shipped globally following a Kickstarter campaign and many fruitful financing rounds, attracting the likes of Mark Cuban, who had initially rejected founder Jan Goetgeluk’s pitch. According to Goetgeluk, Epicenter is the first California entertainment venue to invest in one of his VR arenas, and the fifteenth buyer in the United States, following the developer’s priority shift to commercial clients.

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