By Terry Groover
Sarah Simmons drew the flower, then she erased it. She floated in space on the International Space Station, and felt a bit queasy.
Today, she’s the guinea pig for Route 66 VR, a new virtually reality business that her dad, Ray Simmons, plans to open in the next few days as part of the 10 West Main business complex.
Sarah has spent most of the morning playing with one of six systems inside the video arcade, making sure everything is working as it should before the facility opens to the public.
“This is really cool,” she told her dad as the ghostly image of her hands appeared on a computer screen.
Sarah was seeing the images through a set of goggles and hearing the sounds through a set of headphones. It is the same experience that area residents will find in the near future, Ray Simmons said.
Ray Simmons and his wife, Christy, started talking about starting a business about two years ago, but only decided on the virtual reality arcade plan last year.
His original plan had been to put in a laser tag-type facility, but then he came across the idea for virtual reality.
“I’ve played the games. It is a whole lot of fun to play these games. We bought two units and set them up in my house just to make sure this what we wanted to do. We had family and friends over, and it was so much fun to just sit back and watch them play on this virtual reality game,” Simmons said.
He said those who have tested the system have jumped, moved and reacted to the games as if they were seeing things in reality, even though they knew it was a game.
“It’s pretty realistic,” he said.
Situated in Suite 125 of the business complex, Route 66 VR is expected to be ready for an opening date in the next couple of weeks. The Simmons are doing much of the work themselves, setting up PlayStation , Xbox1 and other systems for “gamers” to try out.
Simmons said his target audience is younger, but added that many of his older friends have tried the system and really enjoyed it.
Unlike the VR systems that can be connected to smart phones, these systems are interactive, he said as his daughter slid through a door of the International Space Station.
There also is a cost element involved. Each of these system cost hundreds of dollars, Simmons said.
And the gaming options are virtually unlimited. They range from shoot-em up-type games, to sports to racing to underwater and space exploration.
There are even team-building games available.
Simmons said he wanted to provide a fun activity for Yukon’s youth, and he is working hand-in-hand with Vacca Territory Creamery and other businesses in 10 West Main facility.
Simmons said the arcade is designed for people over 12. Virtual reality games are not designed for children under 12, he said.
“We are getting close,” Simmons said. “I am excited.”