Virtual reality arcade comes to Fresno
At Bounty XP, a hobby shop and game center in south Sacramento, collectibles and playing cards line the shelves in a corner. Black belt stanchions surround two wall-mounted television screens for PlayStation virtual reality.
Customers can enjoy a wide range of services from all-day board game rentals to Nintendo franchise classics like the Super Smash Bros. Admission ranges from $5 per hour for video games to $25 for overnight passes that include in-house food and drinks.
“We founded this game center to create a space for people to go without having to spend too much,” said Tommy Le, a co-owner of the store. “Having the games in one place makes it a unified experience.”
The Bounty XP Game Center launched its soft opening a week ago, welcoming the community for two weeks of free game time. It celebrated its grand opening Sunday with prizes and raffle tickets.
“We know there are other people like us that play these games,” Le said. “It’s mostly people who keep to themselves. We wanted to create a social space where people can share their hobbies and interests.”
By opening the game center, Le hopes to provide a gathering place for anime fans and video game enthusiasts, a community, he said, that lacks spaces to connect around the love of pop culture.
With the steady rise of virtual reality gaming, Bounty XP is now one of several locations across Sacramento that offer VR experiences. At Zion Virtual Reality, users enter large, individual booths to play more than 80 different games.
The experience attracts a wide range of demographics, according to owner Sean Le, from 10 year olds at birthday parties to seniors who want to try “flying” over open spaces on Google Earth VR.
“Virtual reality makes people feel like they’re inside the environment that they’re playing in,” he said.
But for first time users, Tommy Le of Bounty XP says the experience can feel intimidating.
“A lot of people don’t know what to expect in virtual reality,” he said. “It’s been around for a while, but the price of entry is what keeps people from trying it.”
By offering a relatively affordable option — a PlayStation headset rather than high-end personal-computer systems — he hopes that more people will be inclined to give VR a try.
Joemar Ganal, 27, a resident of south Sacramento, says he is glad a hobby store like Bounty XP opened up so close to his home.
In his free time, he builds Gundam models, or plastic robot figurines from the 90s Japanese mega-franchise, Gundam.
“Everyone loves video games here,” he said. “There’s plenty of room to play games and choose what you want to do: relax, hang out, or meet new people.”