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Couple plan to give town some ‘VRrOOm’

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By Donald Turvill
Dumfries and West
Couple plan to give town some ‘VRrOOm’
NEW VENTURE . . . Hela and Lassaad Sbita

A DUMFRIES husband and wife have ditched running a takeaway to put all their chips in an immersive gaming arcade due to open in the town later this year.

Until recently, Lassaad and Hela Sbita were working into the early hours serving up grub at the Taste of Tunisia on English Street.

But working unsociable hours was making it difficult for the couple and their four children to spend quality time together in the evenings.

“We tried a takeaway but as a family this didn’t work, we need more time to stay with our children,” Hela said, adding that the pair were struck with the idea for their new venture after their kids became obsessed with virtual reality (VR) gaming.

She said: “I thought as my children play these games, we could make it a business and we can keep our children all together, not like takeaways where you work all night.”

Now they are in the midst of converting the ground floor of a former department store on Queensberry Street into a VR arcade – the first of its kind to open in Dumfries.

Lassaad said: “We started to research on the internet and came to the idea of the machines; we used some on holiday in 2019 and also saw one in Blackpool. One will be called VR 360, and you sit in a chair and can play 140 different games in 360 degree vision. Others will be car racing and war themed. It’s our plan to have about 12 different machines, but at the moment we might start with two or three.

“In Dumfries there isn’t much for families; no bowling, no racing, so we’re trying to bring something new. The next steps will take two to three months because the machines need to come from China.”

“It’s a new generation of gaming – you feel properly inside, the air in your face, movement of the machines and vibrations.”

It is hoped by the couple that ‘VRrOOm’ will provide young people and families in the town with somewhere completely new to go after the pandemic.

Hela said: “I am a mother of four children, they are all stuck in the house and our town is like a ghost town. All the shops are closed and we hope that after lockdown all the children can go somewhere to have a good time and play. For all the people in Dumfries, we need something different here.”

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