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New virtual reality game centre to open in Stratford

Matt Tofts is gearing up to open VR You Photo: Mark Williamson O2/3/21/3311. (44758666)
Matt Tofts is gearing up to open VR You Photo: Mark Williamson O2/3/21/3311. (44758666)

LET’S face it, we’ve probably all had enough of reality at the moment so what better time to launch a new business that focuses on virtual reality.

Set to open later this spring – or as the Covid-19 rules allow – VR You will be aiming to give people the chance to immerse themselves in some virtual reality gaming.

Matt Tofts, who is behind the venture, has secured premises in the Minories in Stratford where the business will start with three machines offering a variety of games suitable for a range of ages.

Top priority for his business model is making the experience Covid-safe for users, while a close second is giving people in Stratford, especially children and teenagers, something to do.

Matt, who moved to Warwickshire about 12 years ago, said he had been looking for a site for VR You for a while and had settled on the Minories after looking at Bell Court.

He has a background in attractions for children and families – he opened, and later sold, his own trampoline park and is currently a consultant for the rollout of Ninja Warrior parks, adventure parks based around the ITV show of the same name.

“I’ve been looking for a site for it for a while but Covid has been the way,” Matt said. “I don’t think there’s ever a good or bad time to do anything.

“We’re still building Ninja Warrior parks at the moment – the clients are spending hundreds and hundreds of thousands because ultimately, when we come to the point when we can open, the chances of being able to go on a foreign holiday are probably slim-to-none without any quarantine on the way back.”

He added: “Actually, there’s not a lot to do in Stratford. It’s phenomenally based around the tourism side, but it’s not based around lots and lots of things for people who live here to do.

“This will be a treat to break the holidays up, to break the weekend up. The sessions are only 10-15 minutes long, so you’re not talking lots and lots of money.”

The VR kit is the latest high-tech gadgetry.

“There’s a big difference between your oculus, which you might have at home, to the HTC Vive Pros that we’ve got which have their own base stations and wiring - it’s completely different thing, these are next generation,” Matt explained.

“There’s a few markets. We will have things like Google VR, where you can travel around the world and drop yourself on the Eiffel Tower and have a walk around, to shoot ‘em ups, to tactical games to getting three mates and joining the games together. It’s quite flexible.”

The variety on offer will include non-violent, tactical games aimed at younger children as well as the more gore-filled experiences for older players – the games, more than 120 in total, are all rated according to their content.

Another area the business is considering is VR tours and the potential to offer the service to people with accessibility issues or as a marketing tool for the area.

But that’s further down the line – the main aim is to get the business up and running while making sure it’s Covid-secure. The machines are 2.5m apart and the headsets and hand controls are easily cleaned and disinfected.

“We will make sure we are right on top of that,” Matt said. “We actually have an independent health and safety consultancy which I work with at Ninja Warrior who are advising me on it.”

Find out more at www.vryou.co.uk.

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