Calling all gamers, you can now hit the start button at a new virtual reality bar inside a Shaw nightclub and bar.
Augment Arcade, a temporary bar located on the first floor of Flash Nightclub at 645 Florida Ave. NW, allows patrons to plug into high resolution virtual reality systems while they sip cocktails inspired by video games. The bar, which opened this week, is only open on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. with hours set to be expanded in the future.
Augment Arcade offers more than 30 virtual reality experiences, ranging from sci-fi shooting games to 3D drawing apps. The three virtual reality headsets at the bar are complete with the latest gaming equipment from top virtual reality companies like Alienware, NVIDIA, Intel and HTC.
The games might be rated E for everyone, but the bar is rated 21 and over. Admission gets you access to the equipment for $20 per person.
If you don’t have motion sickness by the end of the night, you can order gamer-inspired drinks at the bar like Princess Peach, which blends a shot of vodka, gin, a dash of peach and a splash of champagne for $10. Shigeru Miyamoto and John Carmack – top video game and virtual reality designers – also found themselves as drink names on the menu alongside beer, wine and classic cocktails.
Flash’s old brick building has a basement feel with concrete walls in the back and worn panels of wood on the ceiling. Those elements are juxtaposed with black booths housing headphones and virtual reality goggles dangling on cords from the ceiling.
Inside the booths, you will find a VR simulator rig with a full helmet. When you strap it on, your sight and hearing in the real world will fade out.
Without warning, you go from pitch black to a nighttime desert. Freely panning around 360 degrees, you can see moonlit dunes in the distance, a dark sky fraught with stars and neon-lit buildings on the horizon. After the introduction scene, the titles of games and apps appear like bright buttons hovering in front of you.
Augment Arcade has limited seating with only a couple couches and a few wooden stools by the varnished oak bar. The small space fills up fast, so be sure to either reserve a booth online or go early.
Daniel Tischler, a partner at Augment Arcade, said the most popular experience is called Space Pirate Trainer. In this game, you’re taken to a skyscraper roof above a futuristic city where you fire laser pistols at flying drones.
Other games involve fighting off mutant roaches in sewers, a game with a drunken bar fight and a simulation inside Google Earth — where players can choose any part of the world to explore. No two nights offer the same games, so visitors can expect a little variety every evening.