A new Butler County attraction dispels the notion that video gaming is only a sedentary activity.
Sphere Virtual Reality Arcade, which touts itself as “Ohio’s first dedicated virtual reality arcade,” recently opened in the Liberty Center’s Foundry mall.
“People can come in and unlock their imagination,” said Jayson Paglow, the company’s CEO. “It’s a very different experience from what a normal video game is. It’s very active. You’re actually inside the game.”
To get there, players strap on a virtual reality headset, grab hold of two hand-held controllers and delve into games from four different categories: Sports, Shooter, Action and Other. The latter includes everything from puzzle-based games for people of all ages to experiential modes that have players doing everything from observing marine life in the ocean to walking a wooden plank atop a skyscraper.
A standard 30-minute gaming session costs $29.99 and can share up to four players. An extra 30 minutes costs an additional $10. Reserving four station for an hour or two for events or parties ends up discounting the cost of one or two players, respectively.
Chris Enneking, of Cincinnati, said he enjoyed exploring an abandoned, ship-wrecked vessel in under-sea simulation “The Blue” when he stopped by Sphere Virtual Reality Arcade on Thursday.
“You’re looking around and mesmerized by having fish around you and then all of a sudden you take one turn and there’s a giant whale,” Enneking said. “It was an enchanting experience.”
Leo Edmundson, of Middletown, said he found virtual gaming to be an immersive activity that gets people moving.
“It’s turning gaming from a sedentary to a very mobile thing, which is a much needed thing especially in American society, because people are much too sedentary,” Edmundson said.
Sphere Virtual Reality Arcade’s Liberty Center location opened after the Aug. 15 opening of an Easton Town Center location in Columbus and before the Sept. 22 opening of a Franklin Park Mall location in Toledo.
Five top-rated games are added at each location each week.
The business also is working with personal trainers, as well, to start a virtual reality fitness program where people can replace their cardio workouts, Paglow said.
“There are certain games where, if you play it for 30 minutes, you’ll burn 450 calories,” he said.