New state of the art virtual reality gaming centre gets ready to open in Hartlepool

An exciting new centre offering gaming fans the latest virtual reality and esports experiences is due to open its doors soon.

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 4:45 am

Hartlepool’s Alice House Hospice is launching North East Virtual Reality Labs (NEVRlabs) as an entertainment technology centre providing unforgettable gaming experiences at affordable prices.

Visitors will be able to slip on headsets and be transported into a realistic but virtual world where they hold back hoards of zombies or feel like they are skydiving from space.

Based at Park Towers, in Park Road, the innovative venture is due to open later in August 2021 after the idea by hospice chiefs to generate a new stream of income.

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The centre will be kitted out with the latest in VR gaming technology.

Rhys Maddren, virtual reality supervisor at NEVRlabs, said: “For young people in town this is something they have been crying out for.

"There’s never been an easier or more fun way to raise money for charity than by playing games.”

Rhys said the idea was originally just to provide virtual reality experiences to hospice patients as something to tick off their bucket lists.

But it grew leading to the creation of a whole new dedication for gaming fans of all ages.

Park Tower, Park Road, Hartlepool.

"This is a unique venture to Alice House Hospice,” he said.

"There are similar places around the country but the difference with this one is it’s a fundraising venture.”

Gamers will have a wide variety of VR games to choose from including a selection of escape rooms.

The centre also has driving and motorbike simulators and a virtual reality treadmill device called a KAT that allows for an even more immersive experience.

A player on one of the KAT treadmill devices.

There are also two rooms dedicated to esports – competitive video game sports, where local stars of the future can be nurtured.

Rhys added: “Gaming is an absolutely massive industry, bigger than film.

"This is also going to connect young people to the hospice in a way that they haven’t before so it will provide that education to them as well.”

There are plans for regular competitions and events. And NEVRlabs is to work in cooperation with schools, colleges, universities and other charities to help young people collaborate, compete and build confidence.

Alice House chief executive Tracy Woodall said: “We are very excited at this opportunity. Hospices are under significant financial pressure and we have to be able to adapt in order to survive.”

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