MISSOULA – Two Missoula entrepreneurs are reinventing the arcade.
We’ve come a long way since PAC-MAN and Donkey Kong- thanks to virtual reality, players can actually enter new worlds. Now the owners of Bifrost VR in Missoula are helping gamers step into another dimension.
Have you ever looked at the stars and wondered what it would be like to fly through space? Or what it would be like to defend a village from an onslaught of orcs? Or what it would be like to fight off hordes of zombies?
Thanks to Landon Mill and James Mcneilan, you can stop wondering. They recently opened the arcade of the future in Missoula. They call it Bifrost.
“The Norse gods used the Bifrost to transport dimensions, so virtual reality’s kind of taking you to another dimension,” explained Mill.
So, how does virtual reality stack up to boring old reality?
“It was nuts!” said Seth Swanson after finishing his very first VR game. “You get trapped in a different world; it’s weird, you don’t realize you’re in a video game. I can’t really explain it, you’ve just got to try it!”
“Everyone’s hesitant at first because seems like you’re just paying to play video games you would at your house, but it’s a whole lot different than that. It’s a whole new experience,” said Swanson’s friend Taylor Featherman.
Featherman is right. These aren’t just video games, and like Swanson said, it really is something that is a must try to understand. Unlike a traditional video game where players holding a controller and staring at a TV screen, in virtual reality, players are inside the world itself. The technology isn’t just for kids; people of all ages want to explore the virtual worlds.
“We’ve had 75-year-olds play and bring in their friends, we’ve had 10-year-olds play for their birthday parties,” said Mill.
Bifrost VR was close to not becoming an arcade; Mill and Mcneilan originally planned on selling VR headsets.
“And we had one for demos, and people just kept wanting to demo, so we just grew from that,” explained Mill with a laugh. “We added another one and then co-op started coming out so we added a third player. We plan on eventually having twelve headsets.”
The co-owners plan to keep up with evolving technology and have plenty of room to expand their business.
“So when wireless comes out, we’ll have wireless. We’ll get motion tracking platforms eventually. We’re going to keep pushing it,” Mill added.
Bifrost VR does accept walk-ins but Mill and Mcneilan recommend calling ahead of time. The co-owners say that will cut down wait times and will save a few dollars.
MTN Reporter: Eric Clements