Many people play video games for a sense of escapism — to enter a different world of sorts. At Dumbo’s vrbar, that expression is taken very literally.
Run by Park Slope resident Kishore Doddi, vrbar is one of Brooklyn’s most immersive virtual reality experiences to date. The shop, which opened in late September at 67 Jay Street in Dumbo, opened a year ago in temporary locations in Park Slope and, subsequently, Carroll Gardens.
Doddi said he hopes to eventually have an actual bar serving drinks in the space at some point in the future.
Virtual reality gaming systems use headsets that appear to place users in the sights and sounds of the game. Virtual reality gaming has gained traction among gamers over the last few years.
The immersive part of vrbar’s virtual reality is made possible by systems such as the HTC Vive, which uses sound, video, and relation to the space around the user through a helmet-like device to create the experience.
Doddi said that he was originally considering working in virtual reality game design, but went in a different direction. “I wanted to be able to bring this experience to the masses,” he said.
The previous locations were tests and also too small, said Doddi, who added that his customer base said they’d travel anywhere to enjoy the vrbar experience.
Vrbar has a slate of 15 games to choose from for now. These include Richie’s Plank Experience, a game in which users conquer their fear of heights by walking a plank high above a virtual city’s streets, and SuperHot, a minimalist shooter game in a dystopian setting.
Doddi’s shop has three systems set up for individual use at a rate of $14 for 15 minutes. Group rates are available upon request.
So far, customers at the new location have included tourists, former clients and local workers, particularly those in the tech industry for which Dumbo is known, said Doddi.
Other virtual reality spaces in Brooklyn include Yokey Pokey in Boerum Hill and Max Adventures in Marine Park.
[Photos by Seán Devlin]
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