Little Luxuries / Virtual Reality
Have fun with VR, play a game, or learn how to create with technology
Photos by kc kratt
Buffalo is home to a burgeoning tech sector that includes the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and an increasing number of tech startups. Whether you’re looking for an entertaining way to experience new technologies or you have an interest in learning about innovative sciences and engineering topics, there are many ways to see how the newest generation of machinery and computers is making a daily impact.
Vivid VR Gaming
The world is just entering the earliest stages of the virtual reality revolution, but Vivid VR Gaming is already making this immersive technological experience accessible to the Buffalo community. Vivid VR opened its first location on Elmwood Avenue in 2016 at the advent of the virtual reality movement and the gaming facility moved to its current location at 3125 Walden Avenue in Depew at the end of last summer. “We believe that we’re going to spearhead the gaming community in Western New York,” says Ken Milligan, co-owner of Vivid VR. “As new tech becomes available, we’ll make it available to the community.”
Up to six people can rent any of Vivid VR’s six virtual reality systems for periods of thirty, sixty, or ninety minutes and experienced staff members can help the uninitiated better understand how to interact with the virtual world. The facility offers a curated list of more than a dozen titles that run the gamut, including first-person shooters, racing simulators, role playing games, and an open-ended environment that provides a more exploratory experience. VR rates range from $15 per player for a basic thirty-minute experience up to $40 per player for a premium ninety-minute experience.
Buffalonians looking for a makerspace to try their hands at the newest generation of manufacturing tools should check out the Foundry, located at 298 Northampton Street a few blocks away from Masten Park. The Foundry hosts both youth and adult educational programming for those who have an interest in 3D printing or laser cutting. More traditional crafting techniques, such as woodworking, textile embroidery, or glass blowing, are also taught through workshops hosted at this space. In April, the Foundry will also be hosting classes on how to create solar-powered lights for garden spaces.
“The thing we say about the Foundry is that it’s really for everyone,” says executive director Megan McNally. “You could be somebody who’s really knowledgeable about 3D printing or someone coming in for the first time who has never heard of 3D printing. We try to make it accessible to everyone.” The Tech Lab makerspace at this facility houses six M3D micro 3D printers, an Ultimaker 3 industrial 3D printer, a Glowforge 3D laser printer, two laser engravers, soldering stations, and computer stations for designing items for 3D printing. Monthly memberships range from $30 to $100 and the Tech Lab is open six days a week, Monday through Saturday.
Buffalo Game Space
Western New York has a number of options for locals who want to play the newest video game titles, but Buffalo Game Space serves as a home for the gaming development community in this region. Located at Suite 454 in the Tri-Main Center, Buffalo Game Space allows game developers to design games in a collaborative space that welcomes a wide array of developers. “The community in Buffalo that works on game development spans the whole spectrum,” says Chris Langford, vice president of the board of directors for the organization. “We have members that are hobbyists working on their first game ever. At the other end, we have developers who are working with major publishers and getting ready to release games on Steam or Xbox One.”
There’s a monthly meetup series which people can attend for free to watch half-hour presentations on some aspect of game development such as programming, artistic design, or game marketing. The community is welcome to attend and play video games matching the month’s theme and moderated by a member of the gaming community.
The organization is also planning another edition of its Buffalo Game Expo, an event at which attendees can test out video games in various stages of development; it is slated for later this spring. This fall, Buffalo Game Space will host a gaming workshop series to teach all aspects of video game development; these workshops cost $40 per session or $200 for a season pass to all ten sessions. Monthly membership rates for those who want to develop their own games using Buffalo Game Space’s tools and facilities range from $10 up to $200 for a dedicated workspace.