TRAVERSE CITY — No rec room? No problem. Want to slay some zombies in the Arizona sunshine, but can’t find afford the flight? No worries.
A new business in the Warehouse District offers a chance to play table tennis against your brother or eliminate the undead in Arizona Sunshine. Verge of Reality opened last week at 229 Garland Street, allowing customers to step inside a video game with a headset and pair of controllers.
The four-station facility is owned by Brent Brisbois and his parents, Peter and Mary.
Brent Brisbois, a 16-year-old junior at Traverse City West, said virtual reality games are something you have to experience.
Verge of Reality offers free 5-minute trials for those new to it.
“We just need people to know about it and try it,” the teenager said. “Words don’t do it justice. It sells itself once you get on the headset.”
Trying it was what got Brisbois interested while on a family trip to Marquette for the Ore to Shore mountain bike race. But he didn’t want to drive hours to experience the technology.
“I figured I could do it myself,” he said.
Brent Brisbois met with Small Business Consultant Samantha Reis from the Small Business Development Center.
The teen said Reis helped him develop and write a business plan and secure a loan to get the business off and running.
Peter Brisbois runs Backyard Farms — when he’s not white-washing the windows at Verge of Reality to reduce light interference. Mary Brisbois is a teacher at TC West. Brent will have his own educational responsibilities, but Peter said Brent will be at the business when possible.
“We’re going to get him in here as much as we can,” Peter said from the top of a ladder. “These young kids and technology, they go hand in hand.”
Brent Brisbois built each of the personal computers that run the stations for around $1,000 each. He said pre-built machines would run about $1,500. Verge of Reality has about 50 different games downloaded, and access to more than 300.
Each of the stations cost $20 for 30 minutes or $30 for an hour.
“People come in and try it and then they get hooked,” the teen said. “We had one guy come in and buy two stations. He had three kids and they were competing to see how far they could get in the game and the other ones were going back and forth (watching).”
Watching can be as much fun as playing a game, thanks to the screen mounted above each station. Spectators can see on the screen what the user sees in the headset, or watch the player flail about behind the VR goggles. Stations can be linked together so that more than one person can be in the same game.
“It varies game to game,” Brent Brisbois said. “Some you can have up to 8.”
Verge of Reality is open noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are also welcome.
Before Verge of Reality launched, the Brisbois family toured other facilities in the state, including Gaylord, Owosso and Mount Pleasant.
“We just need people to know about it and try it. Words don’t do it justice. It sells itself once you get on the headset.” Brent Brisbois