Pixoul Gaming looks as futuristic as it aims to be.
The soon-to-open gaming complex in Al Qana, which spans 4,500 square metres over four floors, is dimly lit and only illuminated by purposefully placed fluorescent lights in shades of green, red and purple, a bit of a familiar aesthetic for most gamers.
It’s hard not to feel pulled in by those lights as soon as you enter. There’s a rotating cubed room, which tells the story of how the gaming hub came to be. Pixoul is an impressive facility and one that aims to be a go-to for gamers of all levels in Abu Dhabi. It hones in on all types of gaming, such as computer and consoles, while also offering virtual reality options. It is also home to the region’s first Esports Academy.
The ground floor has a majority of the virtual reality games on offer — with each in a different setting. While the games can be played individually, they are all part of a story in which Pixoul Planet is under attack and visitors can help save it. Each game lasts about six to 10 minutes.
During my visit, I tried out CryoGenesis, the first chapter in the VR gaming series. For those who may be claustrophobic, be warned that you need to enter a pod for the game. If there is any issue, such as motion sickness, which can happen with VR, I’m told to lift up my headset. Although I am prone to motion sickness, I have no problems this time around.
On the second floor, I try out another game called Planked. This one has me standing on a small platform that resembles a plank, while the game takes me seemingly up high into the sky where I need to battle it out in a shooter game. The platform shakes as I play, which really feels as though I’m on a high plank. I wonder if I'll fall over in public.
The last game I try is Para Shift, which is a parachute adventure, and is similar to the mobile app Flappy Bird. I’m rigged into a chair that has the capability to spin around 360 degrees and offers quite an immersive experience. In the game, I have to push buttons if I want to stay floating, or pull on one side to direct myself. The objective of the game is to collect rings by navigating through them.
Unfortunately, this was also the game that made me feel a bit nauseous after playing it. It’s a bit like a twisty rollercoaster — when I accidentally spun myself around trying to get into the ring — it triggered some nausea. While the game is plenty fun, it’s worth noting that if you have motion sickness, it might be one to skip.
However, if VR isn’t quite up your alley, there are also other things to do at Pixoul. This includes a retro gaming section on the third floor which has titles such as Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and NBA Jam. Each of the games cost Dh4 to play. There is also a section with comfortable seating for console gameplay with the PlayStations 4 and 5, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
In between the two section is an esports bar that sells small treats including muffins, cakes and croissants, as well as popcorn and nachos, a quick snack for gamers on the go. Water, soda and not surprisingly, energy drinks are also available.
Those who are more serious about gaming can enroll in the region’s first Esports Academy, which will be coached by gaming professionals to learn more about how to become a better gamer, specialising in titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant and Fortnite. There are also rooms that can be used for streaming that have the latest equipment to streamline the process.
General manager Paul Hamilton says that Pixoul Gaming aims to be the "home of gaming" and by the looks of it is well on its way.
Scroll the gallery below to see images from the newly opened Cinemacity Al Qana.