After spawning locations all over the local map, the local gaming company known as Vivid VR has settled into a more permanent outpost in Hamburg, as the new Orion’s Landing arcade.
Like many of a certain age, co-owner Ken Milligan grew up during the dawn of home gaming consoles and the fall of video arcades. Instead of having your parents drop you off at the local arcade, you now camp on your couch, maybe playing with friends over an online connection. It’s a sad social shift that Milligan sees as an opportunity.
“The entire industry has been driven toward home use because it’s so easy to just download a game and play,” Milligan relayed to us. “But that kind of started to chip away at the social aspect of it. A lot of games you play at home don’t even support in-person multiplayer. It’s almost like you’re just stuck at home playing by yourself.”
Of course, Orion’s Landing offers much more than the chance to physically gather with your gaming clan. Virtual reality is probably the most thrilling development in video games since the internet. Although, VR gaming requires a good amount of dedicated space, and it doesn’t lend itself to multiplayer, in-home gaming.
Orion’s Landing maps out 100 sq. feet of space per VR gamer ($30 per hour). It also has the technical capacity to handle gaming parties of up to eight people. Milligan said larger parties could be split into smaller groups.
VR gaming is still pretty new and if you’ve never done it, it can seem a bit intimidating. Milligan assured us that Orion’s Landing is noob friendly, and many of the offered experiences are geared toward new users.
“For someone that’s never done VR, I always say it’s hard to explain: You just have to experience it,” Milligan tried to explain. “The best way I can say it is: It’s like when you go on a vacation and get off the plane. You get that sense that you’re suddenly somewhere different, kind of like, ‘I’m no longer in the location that I was, and this is interesting.’
“That’s sort of the visceral feeling people get when they enter VR for the first time.”
Bringing arcades as social spaces full circle, Orion’s Landing also has a number of classic arcade games, including Galaga, NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat. Milligan said people often come for the VR, then stay for the retro games.
Another reason to stick around is the food menu and full bar. The food menu can best be described as updates on classic arcade food: fresh dough pizzas, poutine, chicken fingers, tater tots and the like. The full bar lets gamers slake their thirst on craft beer and video game-inspired cocktails.
The new arcade has roots in Allentown, and Milligan said plying his trade in the nightlife neighborhood was very influential to the Orion’s Landing concept.
“(Allentown) is actually where we got a lot of ideas,” he said. “We were like a date night, or kind of like a night out event for a lot of people. We had customers going across the street to a couple local pubs. They would come over either after or before, and we figured we could just give that kind of night all in one location.”
Orion’s Landing is also family friendly, and many parents have brought kids during the current soft opening phase. Milligan said the VR equipment is typically sized for people 8 years and older, but he’s working hard to lower that restriction.
“We actually work really closely with developers and even hardware makers for VR,” he said. “We’re looking at getting a solution for younger kids – so the software works with the hardware and it’s a fun group experience for everybody.”
COVID-19 guidelines have put serious restrictions on businesses like Orion’s Landing. But as restrictions lift, the VR-cade will expand its sandbox: A live stage will be able to host live bands, DJs, trivia, karaoke, and E-sports competitions.
“Grab a group of friends and try us out,” Milligan suggested. “We promise you that you’ll enjoy your time.”
Opening Hours: Wednesday and Thursday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. – 12 a.m., Saturday 1 p.m. – 12 a.m., Sunday 12 p.m. – 7 p.m., Monday and Tuesday CLOSED
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