By Jill Whitley | jill@newnan.com

Coweta teens have an extra reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving season. 

While Newnan has no shortage of indoor entertainment facilities for families with young children, sullen teenagers have long spent their holiday breaks relegated to their parents’ couches, with only their friends Super Mario and Luigi to keep them company. 

Fortunately, local business owner Steve Marston learned about virtual reality at a trade show in 2018. “He immediately recognized it as the future of gaming,” said arcade manager Sean Carroll. 

Marston instantly knew he wanted to bring the concept to Newnan, where families could experience the cutting-edge technology in a quiet, cozy environment that reminded him of the mom-and-pop arcades of his youth. 

“This isn’t a large, overwhelming destination where you can’t hear yourself think,” Carroll says of the arcade. “It’s a small, family-run place where parents can sit comfortably at the snack bar or take a phone call without having to hover over their kids.”

He continues, “We just happen to have the most advanced virtual reality technology in the state of Georgia at the moment.”

When players enter the arcade’s HOLOGATE, a compact gaming arena with room for up to four players, they are immediately transported to a new world: “When you put the headset on, you leave here,” Carroll says. 

It’s easy to see how one can get lost in the game. In addition to the headset, each player uses controllers equipped with sensors and gyroscopes to simulate movement within the game setting, and a haptic vest, which provides both touch and motion sensory input during play.

 “If you’re facing away from another player when they shoot you, you’re going to feel the hit from behind, just like you would in real life, explains Carroll. 

The arcade’s lineup is extensive and includes something for everyone: Teens and adults will enjoy more mature offerings like Zombyte, while the whole family can play games like Angry Birds, and Groove Guardians- a game Carroll describes as “a giant virtual reality dance party”. 

Busting a move isn’t the only way to work up a sweat at VR Zone: 

“We have a submarine escape game coming out soon, and you really have to run all over the room for that one,” Carroll says. “It involves a lot of cooperation. You’re trying to escape and valves are leaking and things are exploding and you have to make repairs while you’re moving.” 

In fact, one of the things Carroll loves most about the VR gaming experience is that it often requires teamwork: “It really draws kids out of their homes and into a community to let out their competitive spirit”.

Carroll said the arcade plans to eventually host tournaments and other events in the future. “With the growing popularity of e-sports and game streaming platforms, we want to provide a place where the gaming community can come together and engage in a sporting-fan type of experience.”

The VR Zone and Arcade, located at 1690 Highway 34 East in Newnan, can also host special events and birthday parties. For pricing and packages, please call (678) 673-6200, or visit the arcade’s Facebook page.