Next-Gen Arcade Levels-Up Gaming Experience

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 10:30 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Pac Man and Space Invaders have met their final boss: A new generation of arcade gaming is here.

Next-Gen Virtual Reality Arcade brings the latest and greatest gaming technology to Bay County. The business allows novice players and gaming enthusiasts alike to experience video games like they never have before.

“You’re actually in there... When your head moves, it moves. When you duck, it ducks. When you move your hands, your hands move. In a game you gotta hit all those different buttons and you’re staring at that one little screen, this is just a whole different thing,” said Richard Stephens, owner of Next-Gen Virtual Arcade.

Virtual reality offers a deeply immersive experience. Through the use of a virtual reality headset, the games at this arcade simulate the feeling of actually being inside a game’s world. Many retails VR headsets cost a few hundred dollars, the gear at Next-Gen costs thousands of dollars.

“[Our headset] interweaves two different frames per 90 seconds per eyeball - that’s what gives you the immersion and the effect that you’re actually there. The cheaper headsets that go slower than that, those are the ones that might make you feel weird, and they don’t get past that point where your brain knows that you’re actually in there,” Stephens said.

No matter the skill level, there are endless opportunities to see and do new things. Stephens said he’s had customers between age 7 and 74, and he’s never had a customer leave without having a good time.

“We’ve helped a lot of kids with autism here, and definitely we have software for kids with autism that actually helps them develop their skills - their people skills - and that’s really helpful for them because they’re in a safe environment,” said Stephens.

While virtual reality technology seems like something out of the future, Next-Gen Virtual Reality helps demonstrate a point as old as video games themselves: gaming is for everyone.

If you’d like to try your hand at entering the VR world, head over to Next-Gen’s Facebook page or visit them at 7107 W. Hwy 98 Panama City Beach, FL 32407.