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‘It’s an experience’: Pikeville business puts spin on reality

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 8:30 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - If you are looking for a hero to help you escape reality, you are in luck.

VR Heroes, a new business in Pikeville, is a Virtual Reality Experience Center to bring adventure, education, and games to the Pikeville area.

“You don’t have to be a billionaire to go to the edge of space. You can experience that in a virtual, simulated environment that’s safe and affordable right here in Pikeville,” said co-owner Jason Belcher.

The business, born as a result of the pandemic, allows more than just a gameplay environment. Belcher said the space will also serve as a getaway to more desirable locations and a gateway for information.

“We were stuck at home during lock down with not a lot of options and not a lot of things to do. And I started thinking, if possible, is there a way that folks can have adventures or have a good experience while you’re still in the confines of one space?” Belcher recalled. “And that’s just the beginning. You don’t have to go to Egypt to see the pyramids; you don’t have to go to China to see the Great Wall or explore the Great Barrier Reef. If there are places like that you wanted to go, you can experience that in virtual reality in a safe and affordable environment.”

The business has three VR stations for now and headset rentals are available in increments of 30 minutes, with a two hour limit for optimal charging. Belcher said the business has already seen some interest form locals.

“And that’s just from the image of seeing someone with a virtual reality headset on. I think it kind of sparks the imagination and curiosity. Folks just wanna see what it feels like. And that’s really the key thing. It’s an experience,” he said. “You will feel like you’re somewhere else. You will feel like you’re wherever the virtual environment has taken you.”

According to Belcher, it is about much more than gaming.

“I hope their parents will know that for kids who are using VR equipment, it is not like sitting at home and playing your video games. You are very active. Not only are you learning, you are also burning calories at the same time,” he said.

While the Belchers hope to see the experience bring more people to the downtown area, they also have ideas to boost tourism using their merchandise in a different way. Belcher said the applications and programs available at the center can create a new virtual tourism initiative that would be good for the local tourism offices.

“You can take contenct from the local area, create an application for the headset and that will be sent across the world and across the country for people to see and experience. So you can bring Eastern Kentucky to them to spark their interest in tourism and maybe coming here physically,” he said.

Doors officially open Friday at 3 p.m. The business will operate 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday,12 p.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday, and 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Sundays.

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