Jonathan Bricklin’s business plan is morphing even now. The co-founder of SPiN—a table tennis-themed nightclub, now in five cities nationwide—moved to Las Vegas last September to open (with partner Daniel Picciotto) what he called “a virtual reality arcade.” But the ground beneath him quickly changed: VR technology surged forward, and HBO’s VR-inspired drama Westworld debuted to massive acclaim. Suddenly, an “arcade” didn’t feel big enough.
“It’s essentially become a theme park—like Universal Studios, only condensed in size,” Bricklin says. “Universal has about eight incredible, massive, virtual reality-like experiences. Now you can create the same effect with a hydraulic motion chair, timed to any virtual reality content you can dream up for a headset.”
The currently unnamed venue, intended for an October 2017 opening in a Strip-adjacent location that Bricklin can’t yet reveal, will have at its heart a lounge that features vintage arcade games and individual VR sets playing music videos and other short-form content. The lounge will serve food, cocktails and—why not?—liquid nitrogen ice cream: “It’s kinda nerdy, but I like it,” Bricklin says.
Radiating outward will be several themed tunnels, each one leading you “to a virtual reality world.” One will be military-themed; another will lead to “the world’s greatest remote-control race course,” featuring state-of-the-art motion rigs connected to one-tenth scale cars with mounted cameras. “The cars have unbelievable power—they can go over 100 miles per hour,” Bricklin says.
Other worlds are still forming, as Bricklin watches emerging VR technologies and conceives of new ways to use them for entertainment. We’ll have to wait until next fall to find out just how far into the future those tunnels go.
“The real, practical application of virtual reality is just beginning,” Bricklin says, bowing toward Westworld.