New Virtual Reality Arcade opens in Bowling Green

Duane Tyler, also known as Pops, poses for a portrait in the recently opened virtual video arcade, The Holodeck VR on April 11th. Tyler, fellow business parter to Joey Stratton and Nick Lapierre, is eager for what the arcade will do for Bowling Green. “Technology today is unreal, instead of just playing the game, jump in it and be in it,” said Tyler.

Anna Lawson

According to Nick Lapierre, owner of the new Bowling Green business HoloDeck VR, Holo Deck is the only virtual gaming arcade in Kentucky and the 14th in the country. 

There are three co-owners of HoloDeck VR: Lapierre, Joey Stratton and Duane Tyler. Lapierre and Stratton first came up with the idea about a year ago, and since then,  they have been working to make it a reality.

Stratton, who graduated from WKU in 2012, currently lives in Bardstown. However, he comes to the store on the weekends. He said in the 80s and 90s, VR was just starting to come out, but it wasn’t good yet. However, over the summer he tried it again and was shocked by how much it had improved.

“I was like ‘woah, this is for real this time,” he said. “We’re just trying to be pioneers of the VR arcades.”

He said he is excited to see how far it will go, and what VR will be like in the future.

“People don’t understand that it’s for real this time, and it’s gonna take off,” he said. “The games and the experiences, they’re not going anywhere.”

Tyler said they are part of a VR arcade owner’s group that helped them through the opening process. He said they were noticing most arcades charged one dollar for every minute you played. However, they wanted to go in a different route.

At HoloDeck VR, players can pay 15 dollars for thirty minutes or 25 dollars for an hour. There are also many different games to choose from, and ones that are appropriate for every age. They have games that require shooting at an opponent, but also ones that are similar to carnival games.

So far, Lapierre said it has been successful, and it is something anyone can have fun doing, not just gamers. They have had quite a few repeat customers.

“I haven’t had one person come in and just say ‘oh, that was alright’,” Stratton said. “I can pretty much guarantee that whenever you put that facemask on, you’re going to be surprised.”

The owners have tried to make this something anyone can enjoy.

“It’s for everybody,” he said. “Duane, he’s a 61-year-old man, and he loves VR.”

Tyler likes to play “The Lab” which includes a few mini games. His favorite game is one where you shoot people who try to get inside a castle.

Tyler and Lapierre have been friends for a while. When Lapierre and Stratton brought this idea to Tyler, he decided to hear them out.

“They’re the techies and the programmers, and I’m the business end of it,” he said. “I sat here the other night and thought,  ‘am I crazy?’ I’ve been retired for four years, and I’m opening up a business. But I enjoy it.”

Lapierre said VR gaming is much different and better than playing other video games.

“Xbox,  you sit and stare at a screen and play with a controller,” he said. “Virtual reality is 360 degrees, you’re in the game.”

Tyler agrees that there are definitely some perks to playing a game in virtual reality.

“Instead of you sitting in your room with your controller looking at your computer,” he said. “Jump into your computer and become part of the game. That’s what it is, that’s what it’s like.”

Anyone who plays must first sign a waiver, and if they are under 18 years old a parent needs to sign a waiver. They are currently working on a room for them to host events in the next month or so. Their Facebook page has more information about the arcade. It is located at 830 Fairview Ave. Suite B7, near Shogun express.

Reporter Anna Lawson can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]