Lititz man opens virtual reality arcade in Rockvale

By , on November 20, 2018

Switch VR currently has more than 50 immersive virtual reality games — there is something for everyone.

The first of its kind in Lancaster County, a virtual reality arcade has opened in The Shops @Rockvale.

Switch VR LLC has a virtual reality arcade with 10 stations where customers wearing virtual reality goggles can select from a catalog of about 50 games, which include first-person shooter games, kids games, horror, travel experiences or puzzles.

Customers rent time in the one-person stations, although players can virtually link up to play together. Play costs $15 for 15 minutes, $25 for 30 minutes, and $40 for one hour.

In addition to the gaming stations, Switch VR LLC has a pair of party rooms that can be used to host birthday parties or other events.

The arcade is situated in 3,100 square feet of space behind Olive Garden on the eastern edge of the Route 30 shopping center.

Switch VR LLC is owned by Rick Palmer, who also operates Bounce House Rentals of Lancaster County, based in Lititz.

Switch VR has opened a virtual reality arcade in early November 2018 in the Shops @ Rockvale. The arcade’s operations manager Tanner Bailey demonstrates a game. (LNP/submitted photos)

Q & A with the owner

Lititz Record features editor, Melissa Hunnefield, was fortunate enough to catch a few moments with arcade owner Palmer and ask him a few questions.

What inspired you to open a VR arcade?

We tried VR for the first time in February. It was intense. We were given backpacks (containing the high end gaming computer) and a replica gun. We were then fitted with our goggles and given instructions. Once inside our virtual world, we were dropped into a zombie apocalypse. Zombies were everywhere. We could see and communicate with each other which made the experience amazing. After this experience I visited a couple more arcades and was truly amazed of how realistic everything was once inside this virtual world. It was this amazement that lead me to start looking into this as a business for Lancaster County.

How many games do you have at the arcade presently? How often will new ones cycle in?

We currently have over 50 games. We have access to a library with over 200 and will update our inventory as new and exciting games are released.

What “genre” are the VR experiences? Do they target any specific age groups?

We have puzzle games, shooter games, music rhythm games (Beat Saber is a favorite). We can restrict games based on player age.

What’s your favorite and why?

I really love Beat Saber. Its a music rhythm game where you are slashing red and blue blocks to the beat of the music. Truly amazing and intense at the higher levels. I also love the game Creed. Its a boxing game based on the movie. It is so intense dodging punches and punching back like a real boxing match. It’s now part of my daily exercise routine…lol.

Describe what a typical half-hour visit to your arcade would be like from start to finish.

Coming into our virtual reality arcade for the first time you’ll see a large, clean and modern looking facility. We have partnered with SpringBoard VR to give our customers a truly simple experience. They will first be greeted then checked into our system and game time started. We have built a 5-minute buffer into a customers’ time so that the setup process doesn’t take away from their play time.

Once checked in, a player is directed to one of our 10 stations. The curator will instruct the player on the usage of the controllers and what each button will do.

Then comes the fun part. The player is fitted with their goggles. We use the HTC Vive with the wireless adapter (no more large cord to worry about). Once in the game menu, the curator will recommend games to customers that are easy to use so the player can get used to their new environment. Once there, they can experience all we have to offer. It truly is an easy process and extremely fun.

What is linking up?

Linking up refers to players being able to enter into multiplayer environments. For instance, we have a game called Smashbox Arena. It is a 3-on-3 dodge ball game. You can see each other in the game and talk to each other. Definitely a crowd pleaser.

Tell us about the party rooms and what a VR party might entail for those who attend.

We have two rooms dedicated to birthday parties and corporate parties. One room is for 10 people and the second is for 15. We added doors that open to combine the rooms for parties larger than 15. We dedicated a large portion of our 3,100 square foot facility to the party rooms. We felt this was important as we have been to other facilities and the rooms were so small you couldn’t fit everyone in them.

Tell us a little about your history in Lititz.

I come from Upstate New York near Albany and my wife is from Poland. We met in Albany and moved to Lititz in 2008. We have two loving children and are very grateful that we get to raise them in Lititz.

We only planned on being here for a year. I had anticipated being relocated with the company I was working for. Well, I am grateful we stayed.

I love all that Lititz has to offer with the restaurants, bars and that hometown feeling (despite its growth). I always tell my friends that Lititz is a little utopia tucked away in Pennsylvania.

We started a bounce house business five years ago, and now do over 400 events a year. I couldn’t have imagined doing this without the support of the Lititz community. All of our friends we have met have made Lititz feel like home despite our family being so far away.

This community is strong and we are very happy to be a part of it.

Readers can learn more about the arcade at the Switch VR LLC Facebook page, or book a session or party at switchvrllc.com.

Chad Umble is a business reporter who covers the economy and innovation for LNP. He can be reached at cumble@lnpnews.com or 717-291-8718.

Melissa Hunnefield is the features editor for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your feedback at mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

The atmosphere inside virtual reality much bigger than what those outside see.

2 Comments

  1. Rick

    November 20, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Thank you so much to Chad and Melissa for supporting our business. It’s truly a humbling experience to bring something as cool as a Virtual Reality Arcade to Lancaster county…

    • Matt Jacobson

      June 22, 2019 at 2:48 am

      Hey Rick, I’m looking to open up a VR arcade in my hometown. Any chance we could get in touch?

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