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Virtual reality is luring kids out of the basement and back to the arcade—or the art gallery


THOUGH I WAS born at the height of the arcade craze, I never caught Pac-Man fever. Sure, I attended a few Chuck E. Cheese parties as a kid, but by the time I hit puberty, video arcades were already GAME OVER. By the turn of the millennium, home gaming consoles like Nintendo had zapped the public amusement spaces: From 1981 to 1999, combined U.S. arcade revenues dropped from $8 billion to just over $1 billion. As Back to the Future Part II predicted in 1989, video arcades izzled into a niche nostalgia market propped up by hipster bars. However, these days excitable nerds are once again inserting coins into public gaming spaces, at least virtually.

This isn’t the first time around for virtual reality arcades and amusement parks. Timothy Leary, the onetime “Messiah of LSD,” once called VR the psychedelic of the ’90s. By the mid-’90s, Sega had opened a GameWorks VR arcade in Seattle, and Iwerks Cinetropolis was a sort-of VR theme park. But the pixelated graphics of VR back then didn’t look very convincing. It’s not until now that virtual technology has become advanced enough to make public virtual gaming seem like a real thing.

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THE FOREVER WAR: WHY ISIS IS SENDING IT'S KILLERS TO THE WEST Oralando, Nice, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Würzburg, Ansbach, Munich, London and now Manchester. The pattern is becoming depressingly familiar. The news breaks with blurry cellphone footage pedestrians strolling on a seaside promenade, shoppers enjoying a Christmas market, excited kids leaving a pop concert. Then come the gunshots, a rampaging truck or the jolting explosion followed by panic, people running, inert bodies. Within the hour, politicians are on the air with a litany of condemnations and condolences. The reality is, until the West crushes ISIS’s ideology, bombings like the one in Manchester are going to continue and maybe become more common.