Remember Ataris, Nintendos and PlayStation? YokeyPokey is taking video gaming to the next level by bringing virtual reality to Downtown Brooklyn.

The arcade, which opened its doors in 2017, allows guests to explore computer-simulated 3D worlds with the help of a headset, headphones and gloves fitted with sensors.

“My wife and I had the opportunity to try VR a while back,” said Ben, who owns and operates YokeyPokey with his wife Marina. “We were super into technology and education as it was, and we were completely mind-blown by the experience.”

Photo credit: A. Leonhardt for BK Reader

The VR club provides such “mind-blowing” experiences through games and simulations ranging from Fruit Ninja to Google Earth, racing cars to shooting down space aliens. Other VR experiences allow guests to imagine they are at an office job, climb walls navigate the city jungle as Spiderman or fight off a zombie apocalypse. Additionally, YokeyPokey features a sizeable library of 360-degree videos, immersive short films that take the viewers to another location.

But to Ben and Marina, VR can be more than “just” entertainment.

“When we first opened up, we saw YokeyPokey as more of a place for parties, events and kids, but since then we’ve incorporated more and more education into the mix,” Ben said.

Photo credit: A. Leonhardt for BK Reader

To provide more educational experiences, the two added eight-week long classes such as a VR Art Studio Class, that introduces virtual Picassos to different themes, styles, aesthetics and techniques of the masters, or an architecture class, that teaches students how to design, model and build their own 3D environment and bring it into a VR world.

In addition to hosting classes at their Downtown Brooklyn arcade, Ben and Marina have also set up their virtual reality media center in schools across the borough to teach students how they can develop their own VR applications.

Photo credit: A. Leonhardt for BK Reader

“We usually start with having just fun, but it’s more than that,” Ben said. “When we were kids, we learned about history in textbooks, but imagine actually being able to attend the Boston Tea Party during class. The future is about education, and making us better.”

YokeyPokey’s latest collaboration is the upcoming Bklyn Artic Aventure with CityPoint on Saturday, November 24. The month-long holiday VR experience will offer a range of simulations from an excursion to a Winter Wonderland to real life snowball fights and a chance to meet Santa!

To learn more about YokeyPokey, its games, classes and events, go here.


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Taylor Engle

Taylor Engle is a freelance writer from Southern California currently based in Brooklyn, New York. When it comes to writing, she loves the interview process: getting to know a person and then being challenged...

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