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Home / Technology / A VR-powered circus opens its first (virtual) big peak in Los Angeles – TechCrunch

A VR-powered circus opens its first (virtual) big peak in Los Angeles – TechCrunch

On a burning July day in Los Angeles, the regular founder of Two Bit Circus, Brent Bushnell, took a group of guests on a tour through the virtual reality rolling extravaganza of indoor entertainment parking that at that time still a lot of work was going on.

But in a few weeks, everyone in Los Angeles will have the opportunity to take the first peak when Bushnell and his co-founder Eric Gradman have been trying for a year to reinvent the charm of a new generation of amusement seekers.

The story of the tobit actually begins in 2008 in a war of loft and art gallery on the outskirts of Los Angeles, where Gradman, Bushnell and a good band of pranksters wanted to experiment with all the new gadgets and gizmos as previous generations of technology designers and manufacturers come on the market. In the tradition of the best hardware hackers Bushnell, Gradman and their motley crew (crue?) Were looking for ways to combine nascent sensing, projection and visualization technology into experiences and events that would delight and amaze.

"It was eight to ten of us just hanging out and sharing projects we worked with," Bushnell said. At the events, called MindShare, hosted throughout downtown LA, Bushnell and Gradman were called to be "brain Confidence that was keen to come up with fun ways to get along with an audience, "Bushnell claimed.

Two Bit Circus Co-founder Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman

The experiments around the joke with an audience began to take on more form when Bushnell and Gradman began to include narrative elements in their games. One of the last experiences they did to finance was "The Versic Institute of Counter Spying" – even an early flight space that included aspects of submerged theater that took place over the brewery complex where everyone lived and worked. "This whole was basically a high-tech scavenger hunt," Gradman said.

Finally, the popularity of the games and events that the two created gave them something of a r gave in Los Angeles, and that's where companies came and called. 19659002] "Phase one was bringing our things to someone else's parties, and Phase Two built us with the help of other people and took it to other things," said Bushnell of the company's early years.

Their first paid job was to provide entertainment for a major Microsoft launch in LA around the game conference E3. Other concerts followed companies such as Intel, Warner Brothers, where Gradman and Bushnell could build games and create experiences inspired by old Carnie and Coney Island boardwalk games and combine them with new technology to create an experience that was both digital and physical .

"At first we made temporary installations because our biggest struggle was that nobody understood what it was like we built," said Gradman. "We had to convince people that this was what they wanted. Now, many years later, people begin to acknowledge the fact that technology is changing the way we have fun."

For Bushnell this sprang by the invention runs the family. He is one of the eight children of the famous Atari (and Chuck E. Cheese) creator Nolan Bushnell, and literally used his life around games, games and the wild world of amusement parks, carnies, hucksters and showman.

In fact, Bushnell embodies a twentieth century PT Barnum – or a real life, Willy Wonka, and creates a technology-based wonderfire for children of all ages. Think of the Two Bit Circus site as a cross between a steampunk Dave and Busters and a more adult version of his father's Chuck E. Cheese franchise (although the younger Bushnell probably does not want it to describe it that way). [19659013] Early artist who reproduces the design of the first two-bit circus

Lost in funhouse

Entering the Two Bit Circus is the first thing visitors see is a circular bar in the center of the converted storage space that will serve as a test environment for Bushnell and Gradman's global aspirations (and more on them later).

On the left is a Midway arcade filled with updated version of Coney Island style classics like "Demolition Zone" where two players swing a physically destroying ball on a virtual skyscraper to see who can cause the most damage; or "Big Top Balloon Pop" a game for up to four players where participants must color matches fed to them and throw them on colored balloons in front of them to pop as many balloons as possible. Classics such as skulls are also available unclear and timeless (actually who cares with perfection?).

Behind Midway is a specially built robot binder that shadows with patrons sitting up to see the automated cocktail maker, working on his magic. Named Guillermo del Pouro, the robot behind the bar will mix classic and virgin drinks for tea tealers and tipplers alike.

As patrons head to the back of the establishment, they can find the story rooms, which are virtual reality, enhanced space for escape – adventure where adventurers can explore secret Aztec temples, permeate space and explore strange new worlds in the game "Space Squad in Space" , or try to survive a trip down a haunted river in Bayous of Louisiana.

Interior of the inviting VR game Space Squad in Space

"About 80% of the games are specially built," Bushnell said about the transitions to be shown to circus goers. Some of the games, such as Space Squad in Space, rely on episodic content, allowing players to progress through multiple levels and reward with repeated games. Others have a more discreet story.

Bushnell also noted that it is an element of immersive theater that is available to anyone who participates in the park, regardless of whether they enter into one of the virtual reality experiences or not. "There are clues that take you on different experiences in the park," Bushnell said. "We want to reward the curious and give Easter eggs to fans."

Picking up an apparently random phone in the park can give clues to what Bushnell calls a meta-game, which is the adventure of just exploring the park itself. And through different game options – from virtual reality to classic carnie games, to immersive theater in the park, Bushnell said that there should be something for everyone.

"My favorite is the game," said Gradman in an interview earlier this year. "We have such a unique opportunity because we control the whole park. We can make the whole park feel like it's a story with a story to be experienced."

Two Bit Circus also has more traditional virtual reality and arcade game options for people who do not want their experiences quite so immersive. It is a modular virtual reality maze, which is a six meter four-meter physical maze that players navigate with a HTC Vive VR headset and a backpack PC. In the maze, players can either try to navigate in a minotaur's maze or fight black rabbits that prevent a spaceship from starting.

Then there are virtual reality pods that will offer a variety of games and adventure options, while Hologate Fire plays the virtual reality game station offering collaborative and competitive games. For people who want a bit more privacy and a more tailored virtual reality experience, there are private rooms for rent.

Gameplay image from the virtual reality game, BattleZone

A food rack provides updates to old street and state standards and there is room in a living area to see the audience or at the counter where circus goers place their orders.

Finally, it's part of classic arcade games and modified games like Bushnell and Gradman originally built their reputation (including, amazingly, an air hockey game where four people play at the same time).

The park, which opens to the public on September 7th, is free to enter. Classic games and unforgettable experiences will cost anywhere between 50 cents and $ 3, with exciting attractions that cost anywhere in the $ 10 to $ 15.

While individual and group games are show-toppers, Gradman and Bushnell hope that their 150- batch show-start, Club 01, will be another attraction for the participants of Two Bit Circus. There, in a room equipped with 75 shared touch screens, where a ceremony master will lead the audience in interactive games and quiz shows. "This is our interactive game show theater," says Gradman. And two pieces are actively looking for partners to help develop live content for the shows.

This business is a circus

While the first physical location for Bushnell and Gradman's dream of a two-piece circus is a milestone. The company did not raise $ 21.5 million in venture finance to build an installation. In fact, as soon as the company closed its $ 15 million round in January, the leaders of the Two Bit Circus have been open to their goals.

At that time, the company said the funding it had received would be used to build a portfolio of micro-amusement parks around the world. With every place that shows state-of-the-art technology and entertainment from To Bit and its partners.

These stated goals were enough to attract some top-ranked investors, including: JAZZ Venture Partners led the round with participation from other investors, including Foundry Group, Techstars Ventures, Intel Capital, Dentsu Ventures and Georgian Pine.

To explore the expansion further, the company joined Kim Schaefer, an experienced executive who previously drove Great Wolf Resorts to handle increasing its location-based entertainment business. And it hired the amazingly skilled virtual reality expert Nancy Bennett to cover up the work of virtual reality content (which is built into about 20% of the tobit game experience).

"LA is a crazy," said Bushnell of the companies planning. "This is completely designed to copy. It's, moreso now than at any time in our story, an absolute glut of retail. A fact that is confirmed by millennials looking for new ways to engage." [19659002] For Bushnell, nothing clearly emphasizes that point more clearly than the use of the Oculus Rift. "No used Oculus at Best Buy, nobody used it because it's not the right place. Our entertainment will be much more fond and much more appropriate."

Furthermore, Bushnell and Gradman see circus as a hub for other game developers, and hopes game developers test their items in front of a live audience. Recalling their hacker roots, the two places for Two Bit Circus will be the hub of a wider community of players, makers and builders who experiment with new ways to enjoy.

Finally, Bushnell wants the vision to have an international achievement. "We have a number of our attractions can live outside the park," he said. "And we have discussions in different places and … ABsolutlyst whether there are movies or video games or special types of hardware, the possibility of having such things to live outside the park is very real." It's an experience that the founders of Two Bit Circus think they can copy on websites around the world.

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