Next level: Virtual reality bar expands into massive Dumbo space

Game on: The recently-opened Vrbar on Jay Street in Dumbo offers 12 stations to delve into cyberspace, with games and experiences suitable for young and old.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Talk about an expansion pack!

A Brooklyn virtual reality arcade has moved into a massive new venue in Dumbo, giving twice as many players the chance to jack into cyberspace as before.

The newest integration of VR Bar on Jay Street boasts 12 virtual reality stations and one upcoming virtual arena, which will give up to four people a chance to duke it out in challenges that will have them questioning reality, according to its founder.

“It’s a much more immersive experience,” said Kishore Doddi.

Doddi’s emporium offers 30 different games and experiences for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skill levels, including stepping into the vivid world of a Van Gogh painting or demolishing your friends in a game of digital dodge ball.

The entrepreneur debuted the arcade in Carroll Gardens with three stations in early 2017, before moving to a prior Dumbo location next door to his current spot about a year ago.

The new 5,000 square-foot space is more than twice the size of its previous Dumbo location, where Doddi offers virtual reality experiences at a rate of $14 for 15 minutes — although the game master offers a much needed two-minute tutorial free of charge.

In the interest of journalism, this reporter leapt at Doddi’s offer to try his virtual reality games firsthand, and the arcade owner suggested a nice drawing game to help me get acquainted with the weird world of cyberspace.

That’s when Brooklyn Paper Deputy Editor Colin Mixson, who was on hand with crack freelance photographer Caroline Ourso, insisted Doddi jack me into the most intense experience available, likely part of some maniacal bid to scramble my brain, or possibly to obtain good shots for the article. The next thing I know, I’m standing 20 stories above the ground, peering into the abyss atop a wooden plank jutting pirate ship-style from the side of a skyscraper! Who makes these games!?

Doddi says I’m free to leap off the plank if I so choose, and, for some crazy reason, I take the fateful step into thin air — and literally fall over — as the simulated plummet tricks my brain, and my body follows suite.

Fortunately, Doddi is there to catch me, as the cackles of my editor echo from somewhere beyond my bulbous VR visor.

Seeking vengeance, I challenge Mixson to a game of virtual dodgeball — and I’m immediately bested — as my editor, leaning on his past experience from covering the arcade’s Cobble Hill debut, trounces me 5–0.

But I’m a fast learner — the memory of Mixson’s shouts of dispair as I dominate him 5–1 will keep me warm during my next winter stakeout.

Doddi’s fun zone doesn’t end with video games, and the entrepreneur is in the process of obtaining a full liquor license for his adult customers.

But he doesn’t want patrons to get too tipsy before they plug his video games directly into their brain.

“If you’re too drunk to drive, you’re too drunk to do VR,” he said. “We’ll be extra cognizant of that.”

About half of his patrons are between eight and 13 years old so the actual bar at VR Bar will suit parents who want to have a drink, while their kids frolic in cyberspace, according to Doddi.

The game master is also looking to partner with real estate firms by offering customers virtual tours of properties on the market, and he recently met with developers CIM Group who — along with Livwrk — are erecting the mega-development dubbed “Front and York” nearby.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Face off: Reporter Kevin Duggan (left) and editor Colin Mixson (right, crouching) faced off in a dodge ball battle to the digital death.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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