Sunday February 05, 2017

Pong’s Inventor Wants to Bring Virtual Reality to Arcades

Arcades practically died out after PCs and consoles became capable of providing the same gaming experiences at home, but Pong’s inventor, Nolan Bushnell, thinks virtual reality has what it takes to bring them back to life. While VR is already achievable in the home, it is arguably hampered by factors such as price and room space. Bushnell’s venture, Modal VR, tackles both by providing experiences in spaces as big as 900,000 feet at low prices. Will this idea actually take off? Maybe, as it will be offered at malls, theaters, and similar places that attract people who are easily suckered by novelties.

News Image

Bushnell’s latest venture is a company called Modal VR, which is building its own wireless virtual-reality headsets and games that it plans to roll out in places like arcades, malls, and movie theaters in the coming months. On a recent Saturday in San Francisco, Bushnellآ—now a grizzled guy in his mid-70s sporting a Patagonia pullover and black Modal VR hatآ—sat quietly in the audience as a line of people of all ages shuffled through a classroom-size open space. In pairs, they donned a prototype bulky black headset and played Pong in virtual reality, running from side to side to control the game’s simple white paddles. It was fitting, considering "we’re at the Pong stage of VR," Bushnell said with a smile.