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Boro’s first VR arcade opens in Park Slope: An in-depth investigation • Brooklyn Paper

Boro’s first VR arcade opens in Park Slope: An in-depth investigation

Lost in space: VR Bar owner Kishore Doddi shows off his multi-dimensional games.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Park Slope’s gaming scene just entered a new dimension!

A Union Street storefront is now home to Brooklyn’s first and only virtual reality arcade, where digital adventurers can shell out $10 for 10 minutes of reality-bending play that the proprietor guarantees will melt your mind.

“Everyone is blown away,” said Kishore Doddi of his new business VR Bar, between Sixth and Seventh avenues. “We haven’t had one unhappy customer.”

It may sound like a high price to pay for just a small taste of gaming’s new frontier, but given the headsets and high-end computers used to power them can run as much as $3,000, it is actually an affordable way for cash-strapped geeks to get their hands on the latest technology, Doddi says.

“Cost-wise, it’s definitely not very accessible, and you need a certain amount of technological acumen to operate the system,” he said. “It’s very hard for the average consumer to have one of these in their home.”

“VR Bar” is a bit of a misnomer — the space is more like a living room than a watering hole, and you can’t buy booze. The arcade sports two Vive headsets, plus television screens so other people can watch what the players are doing in their artificial realities.

Vive is not as well-known as rival device Oculus Rift, but Doddi says he likes it better — Oculus users have to stay stationary, while Vivers can stroll around their digital worlds and duck and weave as virtual bullets fly at their heads.

The difference is especially evident in Google’s painting program “Tilt Brush,” which allows users to sculpt three-dimensional images and then walk around and through their creations.

“Your movement in the actual playing area is translated into the VR experience,” said Doddi, a former software developer. “So if you point at something on the north wall of your building, it will stay there and you can move around and come back to it, and it will still be there.”

VR Bar has a rotating library of between 10 and 20 games and experiences on offer, which change based on Doddi’s licensing agreements with publishers.

Right now, you can bring the iPhone favorite “Fruit Ninja” to life — using the Vive’s dual controllers as razor-sharp samurai swords to slash through falling watermelons and grapefruit — blast through hordes of the undead in “Brookhaven Experiment,” or enjoy a surreal take on your mundane existence with “Job Simulator,” a favorite amongst youngsters where players can either muddle their way through a number of routine office and cooking jobs or throw staplers at their bosses.

Virtual reality users have in the past reported getting motion sickness from the experience, also known as “simulator sickness,” but Doddi claims that advances in the technology have more or less ironed out that particular kink — although it does still happen occasionally.

“It happens pretty rarely,” he said. “One girl got some motion sickness, but she was flying in Google Earth for like 20 minutes.”

Doddi only has the VR Bar space until March, so the arcade might be as fleeting as the sessions, but he says he is considering renewing the lease if it is a success.

Game like you’re in the 1994 music video for Aerosmith’s “Amazing” at VR Bar [808 Union St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues in Park Slope, (909) 547–4673, www.vrbar.nyc]

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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