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WHAT: Head Games VR
WHERE: 9655 W. Colfax Ave., Unit C
HOURS: Monday through Wednesday and Sunday - Noon to 8 p.m.
Thursday through Saturday - Noon to 10 p.m.
CONTACT: Call 303-960-2974 or visit www.headgamesvr.net to reserve a time
Heights have never really been my thing. I don’t have the strongest stomach, and heights don’t exactly help.
So at the end of my interview with Victoria Merchant, owner of Head Games VCR, when she asked me if I’d like to try it, I was hesitant.
“A lot of people think virtual reality will make you nauseous or something, but that’s not a problem we have here,” she told me. “Our frame rates are high enough that everything feels seamless.”
With my main excuse gone out the window, I decided to give it a while, and soon found myself wearing a headset, with controllers in both my hands, in an unfamiliar world.
Merchant directed me to a favorite game for first-timers — Richie’s Plank Experience.
I suddenly find myself in an elevator, going up. And up. And up.
The ride stops and the doors chime open, and all that’s in front of me is a plank — extending out from the top of a building in a busy city, 160 meters above the ground.
The headset speakers come alive, and I can hear the honking of car horns, cries of birds, and the sound of a helicopter flying by.
I know it’s not real, that’s it’s all virtual reality. But I am terrified. Too terrified to even move forward onto the plank and look down.
You know that feeling when you’re standing close to the edge of a height and you’re afraid you’re going to jump? Yeah, I have that.
Merchant breaks me out of my reverie.
“Just take a step forward.”
I manage to do it, and its not a rickety plank under my feet. It’s the same ground I’ve been on for the past half-hour — but that doesn’t make stepping out into space any less nerve-wracking.
But what really makes the experience magic for me is when I get back into the elevator, and go down a couple floors. This floor allows the player to fly around the city and explore. And just like that, a journalist named Clarke with glasses felt like Superman.
— Clarke Reader
Soto Nest and his brother Aaron work their way through a room, dodging bad guys, dispatching enemies and working together to finish the level.
But the real room they’re standing in is a dimly lit room on West Colfax with headsets over their eyes, and controllers in their hands.
They’re playing at Head Games VR, the metro area’s first entirely virtual reality arcade, located at 9655 W. Colfax Ave., Unit C.
“I tried Google to see if there were any VR places around and found this,” Nest said. “I just wanted to try it out and see what it’s like. It’s pretty exciting its here.”
Head Games is the brainchild of Victoria Merchant, a Lakewood entrepreneur who was looking for a new kind of family space.
“I originally thought about some kind of escape room, but then started getting into virtual reality,” Merchant explained. “A lot of people are looking for this kind of gaming experience, but accessibility is hard, because the machinery costs a lot.”
The way the virtual reality gaming experience works at Head Games is gamers put on headsets that take the player into a three dimensional world where they can pick from a range of games, including Richie’s Plank, Superhot and Rec Room. There are games for all levels of players — adventure, first person shooters, and even a job simulator.
The business’ chief operation officer, Nathan Hostetler, got involved after falling in love with virtual reality after just one experience with it. He helped to build the computers that power the three headsets Head Games currently has.
“The experience is best when you come with friends,” he said. “You get to travel to different worlds, not as a lone traveler, but by working together with people you like.”
Gamers can rent a headset for $35 an hour, or can rent the entire facility for parties. And Merchant is already working toward getting more headsets and games for customers. Head Games is also expanding into family nights and tournaments.
Business has been steady, and word is spreading about the immersive environments players can sample.
“Come with the highest expectations,” Merchant said. “We’ll still blow them away.”
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