Biggest virtual reality videogame centre outside of London reports strong start after Hartlepool launch

A new gaming centre in Hartlepool said to be the biggest outside of London is proving to have a real wow factor say bosses.

By Mark Payne
Friday, 1st October 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Friday, 1st October 2021, 5:19 pm

NEVRlabs (North East Virtual Reality Labs), in Park Road, offers gamers the chance to play the latest in state-of-the-art virtual reality games.

Bosses say the hub has got off to a strong start since opening at the end of August.

Dylan McKie using one of the virtual reality headsets at the NEVRlabs Park Tower. Picture by Frank Reid.

Leon Penberthy, a VR Team Leader at the centre, said: “The reaction has been very positive.

"Visitors haven’t seen anything like this in the area especially the North East.

"I think the closest VR centre to this scale and size is possibly London so we are probably one of the biggest in the country.

"We’ve got some of the most state-of-art technology in terms of PC gaming performance and exclusive games you can only get at VR centres.”

Leon Penberthy loses himself in a game at NEVRlabs Park Tower. Picture by Frank Reid.

Leon said the centre has attracted a lot of interest from schools, colleges, universities and private businesses looking to pop on a headset and get lost inside a virtual world.

And many have been keen to go back and plug in again.

NEVRlabs has five virtual reality headsets and gloves linked to wall mounted monitors that show what the player is experiencing.

It also has several larger pieces of tech such as a skydiving simulator and digital escape rooms.

The centre's flight simulator.

Fans of games such as Fortnite can also make use of the centre’s Local Area Network (LAN) room.

With the centre raising money for Alice House, Leon said it introduces a positive social element to videogames.

"There’s a big wow from visitors that the hospice would be doing something like this,” he said.

NEVRlabs, based in Park Tower, is also employing a number of young people through the government’s Kickstart scheme.

Greg Hildreth, Alice House’s communications senior manager, added: "The public response has been wonderful, with lots of new customers and lovely feedback as the business grows.

"Most importantly, all of the money generated by this new venture goes directly back to Alice House and helps us support patients and their families now, as well as securing Hospice care for the future.”

NEVRlabs costs £12 for 30 minutes and £20 for an hour.

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