Neil Russell attempts to get out of a virtual escape room at the Arc Gaming Centre in Salmon Arm. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Virtual reality, arcade gaming centre opens in Salmon Arm

Owner hopes to host city’s first Esports team for games like League of Legends, Fortnite

Salmon Arm’s newest gaming hub is putting a different spin on the blinking and beeping arcade halls of past generations.

The Arc Gaming Centre, located inside the Westgate Public Market, is the modern gamer’s dream. With six virtual reality studios equipped with Oculus’ Rift S headsets and controllers, six PS4s connected to gaming quality monitors, two Nintendo Switch consoles and two wall mounted wide-screen TVs.

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The centre is the brainchild of owner and operator James Honeyman. Originally from Grindrod, he brought his idea to Salmon Arm because he wanted to share with people the enjoyment he finds in gaming.

“I think more than anything I just want it to be fun,” Honeyman said. “I know that’s not a very business-like approach, but for me I like to get together with people and hang out.”

When conducting the research for the gaming centre, Honeyman went to Vancouver to see what other VR gaming centres had done. Honeyman noticed that people would come into the gaming centres, play and then leave.

“There was nowhere to hang out, it was just a very businesses-like setting. So what we wanted to do is after you play VR, you can hang out after,” he said.

To create a place for people to hang out, Honeyman turned to local businesses and fabricators to buy and make the various tables, table tops and couches that fill the space.

The multiple VR studios allows players to join the same game and work together to find their way out of a virtual escape room.

In addition to letting Honeyman share his passion for games, he hopes the centre will keep the local youth busy doing something they enjoy.

“The 20-something crowd in Salmon Arm is definitely looking for something to do,” said Honeyman. “You’ve got a lot of kids running around with nothing to do and that usually just gets them into trouble.”

Read more: Remember virtual reality? Its buzz has faded at CES 2019

Read more: Plugged in: Kelowna teen thriving with professional eSports U.S. team

Honeyman has plans to create a Salmon Arm Esports team for games like League of Legends, Apex Legends and Fortnite.

The centre had its soft open on July 1. A grand opening is planned for September.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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James Honeyman and Darienne Russell in one of the six virtual reality studios in the Arc Gaming Centre in Salmon Arm. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Jayden (left) and Chris Belcourt share a moment while playing a video game at the Arc Gaming Centre in Salmon Arm. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

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