Content warning: Contains descriptions of gun violence and gore
Located under the Enclave housing complex on Telegraph Avenue, GamedayVR, a virtual reality game store, aims to open its doors at the start of the fall semester.
While the main attraction of the game room features an interactive, first-person shooter game with a compatible physical arena, the store also intends to feature stationary games. Chief Operating Officer David Gray said that the Telegraph location is the “only place in the country” that players can experience actually being in a video game.
“We wanted to open up (a location) on Telegraph in Berkeley for a couple reasons,” Gray said. “We wanted to tap into the UC Berkeley community, the creative and technical talent of Berkeley.”
In a preview with The Daily Californian, operators of the Telegraph storefront provided a glimpse of the feature game Arizona Sunshine — a zombie apocalypse game based on the original arcade game.
After donning a battery backpack and virtual reality goggles, participants are thrown from the Southside of Berkeley to a barren, zombie-ridden desert.
Armed only with a model rifle and a hazmat suit, the game takes players through a deserted refinery, in the search for a doctor who may be able to put an end to the zombie infection through a magical cure. The 15-minute experience is thrilling, with undead popping out from every corner.
“We want to create a space for students to come in with their friends on Thursday or Friday night before they go out to party,” said Hong Huang, manager of the Berkeley location of GamedayVR.
According to Huang, who also manages the Alameda location, the Berkeley location is specifically catered to the student demographic. In comparison, GamedayVR’s location in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square is more geared towards tourists, while the Alameda location is more geared towards a family-fun experience.
While Arizona Sunshine is currently the site’s only experience, game developer Alex Rios said the team is working on four more projects, including a roller coaster ride. Technician Melad Sabagh, who also assists with game development and is a rising junior at UC Berkeley, added that a golf game is also in the works.
As a guide at the Telegraph location, Syed Rahim said his job is to test games before they launch and show visitors how to play each game. Huang said the business is looking to hire more student guides who would essentially “play games for a living.”
“It’s a fun job,” Rahim said. “It’s always fun to see others try it out for the first time.”
While prices have not fully been set, Huang said the team is looking to charge about $30 to $40 per playthrough. Huang added that the team plans to implement a reservation system, but that anyone could just drop by.
Matt Brown contributed to this report.