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Arcade brings virtual reality to Bensonhurst

BENSONHURST — There’s a new game in town.

Over the years, arcades have mostly become places of the past, where kids from the ‘80s and ‘90s fed quarters into their favorite arcade games. Whether it be Ms. Pac-Man, Street Fighter or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, arcades offered friends the opportunity to get together to experience competition and a gaming experience they couldn’t get at home. 

With leaps in technology for home consoles and computers, many arcades have shut their doors, leaving a void.

Now, however, the emergence of virtual reality (VR), a technology that requires relatively expensive and cumbersome headsets,  has breathed new life into arcades.

Enter Futuristic VR, 6604 18th Ave., Bensonhurst’s first virtual reality arcade.

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Owned by a local family, the arcade, which opened on July 1, provides tons of VR experiences using the PC-powered HTC VIVE PRO Headsets.

Owner Elona Lopari discussed the inspiration behind bringing a VR arcade to Bensonhurst and hopefully making it a family destination for years to come.

“We’ve actually lived in the area for the last 15 years and we had always struggled with finding things to do around Bensonhurst, so we’ve been using VR in our home for years now and it always brought us together as a family,” she explained.

WIth a lack of family-friendly activities in the area, Lopari and her family would travel to Virtual World NYC in Manhattan to enjoy the arcade experience.

“We thought, why don’t we bring the same kind of idea down to our neighborhood?” she explained. “My brother, who is my partner, is very passionate about VR as well, so we co-partnered and opened up the arcade here..

“The idea was always around bringing people together and creating an environment where they could come in, just have fun and connect with their friends and families,” Lopari said. “We have weekly events, like tournaments, which gives people a reason to come by and hang out with teir families.”

The arcade features VR favorites such as Beat Saber, Space Pirate Trainer, Creed Rise to Glory, Job Simulator and Google Earth VR.

“Besides the regular VR multiplayer and single player gaming that we have, we also do private events and birthday parties,” Lopari said. “People in the neighborhood are happy that there’s finally something to do.”

The arcade also provides an educational component: students on class trips can virtually dissect a frog, for example, Lopari said, adding that customers have to experience VR to understand it. “You can’t really describe it to them. That’s why we try to get them on the headset so then it speaks for itself. The response, once they finally put it on is, ‘Woah this is so cool.’” 

Futuristic VR is open Monday through Friday from 1-9 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday, 12-8 p.m.

For more information or to book a station, visit www.futuristicvrworld.com.

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