Now you can be 'beamed' to Enterprise

October 01, 1992|By New York Times News Service

"Star Trek" plans to boldly go to the mall.

Paramount Pictures has licensed its "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series as the theme of mall-based entertainment centers that are to incorporate "Star Trek" into so-called virtual reality games. The computerized playgrounds will use complex software to create the illusion that participants are immersed in a life-size fantasy world.

The stores will be built and operated by St. Louis-based Edison Brothers Stores which already runs 10 virtual-reality centers, Virtuality.

The first "Star Trek" centers are to be set up in the next 12 to 18 months, although the sites have not yet been chosen.

Company officials are not disclosing the cost of building the centers, but they are clearly facing a pricey proposition. The mainstay of the larger centers -- to be known as Star Bases, as opposed to the smaller Star Posts -- will be a game in which up to 50 people can participate from various positions at the Enterprise's bridge, holodeck, and transporter and engineering rooms.

Some players will also wear virtual-reality helmets, well padded to protect against slam dunks by unsuccessful adventurers.

Spectrum Holobyte of Alameda, Calif., which already produces computer software games based on Star Trek, is designing the virtual-reality software. It will find a role for all players, and keep them busy with various emergencies and tasks even when the central action is taking place elsewhere in the starship.

Gilman Louie, chairman of Spectrum Holobyte, said the game would probably cost players between 50 cents and $1 a minute -- depending, for example, on "whether you want to be the captain," he said. For players who have no idea what to do once they enter a virtual world, the game will suggest moves.

Besides the centerpiece virtual-reality game, some of the stores will include restaurants offering, among other fare, Klingon burgers.

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