Front desk of Galaxy VR Arcade
Escaping reality: New arcade owner, 19, says it’s a perfect time for virtual reality

February 23, 2021

Read Livingston Daily’s full article here

Aidyn Messerschmidt, owner of arcade

Aidyn Messerschmidt’s in-person school experience ended early, but new doors opened for his future.

Messerschmidt, 19, is a 2020 graduate of Hartland High School. Less than a year later, he is a first-time entrepreneur.

His new business, Galaxy VR Arcade, is expected to open Feb. 27 at 4088 E. Grand River Ave. in Genoa Township. It is located in the Country Corners mini mall.

“VR became my reality during quarantine,” Messerschmidt said. “I explored all avenues of virtual reality and wanted to share the experience with others. I want to provide them entertainment. We need it now.”

He said he grew up playing video games with his father, Brandon Messerschmidt. who is contributing expertise in store management to help his son get the arcade off the ground.

During quarantine, Aidyn bought what he calls a cheap version of Oculus Quest virtual reality gaming equipment.

The arcade has six stations with much higher-end systems.

“I said, let’s get the nicest, high-quality headsets, and for an affordable price we can let people use our gear,” Aidyn said.

The arcade features about 135 games of different genres – first-person shooters, sports simulators, horror adventures, fitness games and educational experiences.

The cost to play ranges from $10 for one person to play for 15 minutes on a weekday, to $100 for a 60-minute four-station multiplayer experience on the weekend. Prices are higher on weekends.

A couple who wants to play against each other for 30 minutes on a Saturday would pay $40.

“In some you have interactions. In others you’re in a 360-degree world and you don’t interact. It’s more of an experience, like a rollercoaster,” Aidyn said.

One experimental “game” allows the VR user to travel to famous landmarks, including canyons, mountains, caves and temples.

Aidyn’s mom, Tammy Sexton, said one of her favorite experiences was diving beneath the ocean waves and swimming with a manta ray. Aidyn’s favorite type of virtual reality game is first-person shooters, which immerse him in digital worlds.

“I fantasize about getting to be in the (game’s) world,” he said.

The arcade also features space games and a virtual space station experience.

Person playing virtual reality game in arcade

Space is the main theme of the décor. Decorations includes many prints of space scenes on canvases and collectable flags from science fiction franchises such as a The United Federation of Planets flag from Star Trek and a Mandalorian flag from the Star Wars series.

Brandon Messerschmidt said he and Aidyn visited other virtual reality arcades to get an idea of how to set up their own business.

“We went shopping for real estate in November. The agreement was, if we find the right place, we’ll do it. There is great traffic in this mini mall. Aidyn has done a fantastic job getting everything set up like he envisioned,” Brandon said.

Aidyn said he has considered different life paths. He considered going into the military or training to become a police officer.

Ultimately, providing entertainment to a pandemic-weary public and being his own boss drew him toward his dream of opening a small business.

If you go

Galaxy VR Arcade customers can walk in, purchase time slots between 15 and 120 minutes, and play as many or few games as they want during that tie. Multiplayers can experience virtual reality gaming together by purchasing 30 or 60-minute slots.

Small groups can also take turns using the equipment. Games are displayed on TV monitors, so people who are not actively playing can watch their friends and family members.

Aidyn said there are plenty options for kids and beginners.

“There are games of every comfortable level,” he said.

The arcade will also rent out the whole place to small groups, limited to 15 people.

“In terms of COVID, between uses we have handy-dandy sanitizing wipes and for $1 you can have a virtual reality eye mask,” Brandon said.

Requiring masks and limiting close contact are other public health safety measures in the arcade’s game plan.

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