Former oilfield workers tap into virtual reality – Invest Medicine Hat

Former oilfield workers tap into virtual reality

News / People / Start-up Culture

Slaying zombies, taking in mountain views and walking with dinosaurs is all possible in Medicine Hat.

June 19, 2017

After five years of working at an oilfield trucking company, Ken Forbes decided it was time to get back to doing what he loves most – entrepreneurship.

“It’s hard to stop chasing jobs in the oilfield because you make great money, but there comes a time when you would rather do what you enjoy,” says Forbes, who was laid-off last year. “And for me, that’s starting a new business.”

In May, Ken Forbes and Peter Wowchuk opened Medicine Hat’s first virtual reality arcade, VR Junkies.

“We brainstormed what was missing from Medicine Hat and technology is huge right now,” says Forbes. “Also, it has been a while since there has been a new form of kid-friendly entertainment in the city.”

Virtual and augmented reality games are quickly growing into a multi-billion dollar industry. As reported by Forbes magazine, data from Statista show virtual reality gaming sales may reach an estimated $22.9 billion by 2020.

Forbes took courses at Community Futures Entrecorp and joined Wowchuck to approach VR Junkies about opening its first Canadian location. VR Junkies is notable for having opened one of the first virtual reality arcades in the United States.

“We think they have developed a very good product and provide good quality games for a wide variety of interests,” says Forbes. “You walk away with an experience.”

Forbes and Wowchuk leased an 1800 square foot space in downtown Medicine Hat with room for six 100-square foot game stations. Here, clients aged four to 72 have put on the goggles to play the growing library of over 30 games.

VR Junkies is within weeks of opening, however, Forbes and Wowchuk may be looking to hire 2-3 new staff, coinciding with the influx of students attending Medicine Hat College in September. As their business grows, they have set their sights on expanding the arcade to eight stations.

So far, the business partners are pleased with their decision to bring a new experience to Medicine Hat and locate in one the city’s most active commercial centres.