To the naked eye, Red Deer’s Virtual Reality — called Electric Eye — arcade is a small room with computers and a large TV.
But, strap on one of the two virtual reality headsets and the room can become a world on to its own. In seconds, people can be transported to a shipwreck, staring down a passing whale; to a cartoonish zombie apocalypse, shooting cardboard cutout zombies; to a dark corner facing hordes of disgusting creatures who want nothing more than to hurt you.
Behind the arcade, which opened earlier this fall, are Kobyn Schlichter and Kyle Wadsten.
“It’s the same environment from the 1980s where the machines were too expensive for people to have in their households,” said Wadsten.
Schlichter said he got the idea to start the business in Red Deer while on vacation in Kamloops, B.C. While he was sitting on the beach, someone came up to him with a flyer of a similar business he started there.
“I didn’t even know the technology existed,” said Schlichter. “I went and tried it, and I was blown away.”
Wadsten had wanted to open a virtual reality arcade for about a year prior to Electric Eye opening. Wadsten stumbled upon a Kijiji ad Schlicter had posted looking for someone else interested in starting a VR arcade.
Schlicter already had the place lined up and the machine purchased. The two met and within days, Wadsten ordered his own machine and the business got rolling.
While the modest space is where they are housed now, the two have their sights set on moving to a better place in the future. For Wadsten virtual reality is about more than video games. He wants to make music videos with them. While Schlichter wasn’t much of a gamer in recent years, but got back into it with the new device.
“I brought it to my grandma’s birthday party and there were 80-year-olds and 90-year-olds would put it on and just be absorbed into the new environment,” said Wadsten. “They run around and try to grab things they see.”
The two try to test out all of the games they get, but admit the horror games give them a scare.
“Neither one of us likes to do the horror games,” said Schlichter.
Electric Eye is located in Nerd City in downtown Red Deer at 5127 48th St. For more information visit electriceyevr.com.