Whether it is people looking to have their first experience with VR, or developers looking to try and universalize their experiences, accessibility to an ever burgeoning hardware and peripherals market is an issue (especially so overseas). All around the world, Meetup and similar communities have sprung up, bringing developers and enthusiasts together to share their common love for VR. However, these Meetups are far from permanent installations where developers and the community can hop in and work with the latest and greatest in VR. That’s where ‘The VR Den’ comes into play, Australia’s first dedicated VR center.
Located in Melbourne, the project is the result of a collaboration between Sana Nolan and a local co-working space, Revolver Creative. The project began as an Indiegogo campaign but failed to pick up traction until Revolver and Nolan got together to will it into existence. Says Nolan, “we’ve got from ‘this is an idea,’ to ‘this is happening’ and the funds will be able to make the space permanent.”
Doing this in a co-working space sets the tone for the project which was originally called an ‘infinity arcade.’ Making it into a space that is as concentrated on fun as it is on development. According to the campaign, “[the VR Den] will be more of an exploration space – a co-operative working area,” time in the Den will be available in flexible packages ranging from hour blocks to longer team memberships. The Den will offer members access to all of the latest hardware and software, including 360-degree camera technology and top of the line PCs to develop and try them on.
Nolan has also partnered with an array of new sponsors, who will help bring some really cool stuff to the table. For example, Simpit technologies will be bringing “The Icarus Avenger,” a simulator system with “180º/60º of active FoV offers true super-wide filed of view with head tracking enabling the full 360º.” Iris flight sims will also be providing a lot of software as well, so there will most definitely be some really cool flight simulator projects that get developed in the Den.
The VR Den plans to open its doors for a preview on March 30th, tickets to the opening are available for $10, which will give you a full day of access. The VR Den will make its official open “sometime shortly after Easter.”
I have spent a decent amount of time hanging out in the River VR Accelerator program offices at Rothenberg Ventures, and the atmosphere in the room is electric. Everyone I have spoken to with the program cannot speak highly enough about how incredible it is to have access not only to whatever resources they need, but to the amazing community of developers that have been assembled in the room. I have seen teams collaborating at River nearly every day I have visited and that is great for everyone involved. That is the atmosphere Nolan is looking to cultivate with The VR Den.
Projects like this one are going to be vital to the success of this industry. Given how fast it seems that new hardware is coming out, especially as everyone and their mother tries to solve the input problem, it is impossible for the average indie developer to keep up and so they are forced to make hard decisions. VR co-working spaces solve that problem by providing access not only to the hardware itself, but a vast array of other resources including other developers.