Viral Entertainment in Corporation Street was the brain-child of Lynnette and Garry Ballantyne, who met online, and were inspired by a visit to Harrods where they tried out a virtual reality (VR) headset.
The husband and wife team enjoyed the 360-degree real-life, immersive computer-generated experience so much that they wanted to bring the system to their home town.
Garry said: “Whatever your interests – whether it’s being a gladiator, driving a racing car, you can visit anywhere in the world, be anyone you want to be.
“The only limit is your imagination. Some people say it’s not for them but I challenge that. I will find an experience for everyone – we cover every subject – history, painting, geography.
“We cater for all ages and have four pods and a fifth one which is for our virtual racing simulator.
“The VR headsets are designed for the high-powered PCs running high-end graphics cards.
“They provide an experience that few people would be able to afford at home or have the space.”
It has taken IT consultant Garry, 38, and 39-year-old Lynnette two years to open the a family-friendly, drop-in entertainment centre.
The couple who met virtually were married in Corby in 2003 and have two children, Wills, 15 and Aimee, 14.
Lynnette, who was working as a dental receptionist, gave up her job to concentrate on the new business.
She said: “It’s something for us and our children. We have a strong bond as a husband and wife and as a family. It’s a family business but we want it to grow.
“There’s nothing anywhere near to here like it. It’s a whole different experience. I personally think it’s going to be good for the town.
“You will experience something new every time you come.”
Gamers will be able to work together in virtual worlds, each standing in their own ‘pod’ but interacting in the same scenario.
Other guests can see what the person in the game can see on a screen showing real-time action.
Customer Sammy Brooks tested the Richie’s Plank challenge where gamers go up a skyscraper in a lift and once the doors open have to walk a plank out over the cityscape below.
They then come face to face with virtual spiders – including a very large arachnid – and other surprise characters.
Sammy, a 24-year-old warehouse operative, said: “The lift door doesn’t close properly so you can see the yourself going up. It really felt like I was on a plank. I was genuinely scared and my heart was pounding.
“I would really recommend it. It’s my nephew’s birthday coming up so it would be great for him.”
Initially, Viral Entertainment is open seven days a week – Monday to Thursday 10am to 10pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to midnight, although times may vary depending on demand.
Lynnette said: “It is free entry and we have some retro gaming consoles for people to use as well as refreshments including Rollover hot dogs, sweets, crisps, cakes and hot and cold drinks. We shall also be applying for a drinks licence.”
Garry added: “We’re the ideal place for parties, sports clubs, youth groups and stag and hen parties especially with our linked multi play.”
Pods are available at £20 per person per hour during the day and after 5pm and at weekends £25 per person per hour.
To book online go to www.viralentertainment.co.uk or call 07944531243 or visit the centre in 3-5 Corporation Street, Corby.