June 21, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A new gaming center focused entirely on virtual reality has opened its doors in East Williamsburg.
New Dimension, the name of the arena, opened a couple of weeks ago at 228 Bushwick Ave., and offers the latest in virtual reality gaming and software.
The site has several rooms and experiences available for guests, with a multitude of single player games ranging from racing and flying, fantasy, military, sports and more. Some multi-player games are available, as well as short VR movies.
Gamers will use a combination of headsets and controllers to play in the virtual landscape.
The virtual reality arcade came about as a way for Samir Agivayev, the owner of the site, to share a long-time passion of his.
“It’s a new level of gaming,” Agivayev, 34, said.
Agivayev, a native of Azerbaijan, taught himself about computer hardware and software, and has been an avid gamer since his youth. Most of the computers at the site holding the virtual reality software were built by him.
“I was spending a lot of money on my hobby, so why don’t I try to make money from that hobby?” Agivayev said. “Why don’t I bring this hobby to the people?”
He said virtual reality is a field that many will become familiar with soon, and allows for a world of possibilities in a city increasingly limited in physical space. Virtual reality, he adds, could offer an alternative space to do many things ingrained in society today—a jogger, for example, can take a jog in a virtual world for exercise, while a receptionist could remotely work from another site with a virtual reality headset.
“People don’t understand what this is right now, but give it a couple of years, and people can’t live without this,” he said.
One of the main components of the gaming center is an Omni Arena, a platform where two people can strap themselves into harnesses and essentially walk infinitely in any direction by sliding onto a slippery platform. Agivayev said the arena, from a Toronto-based electronics company, is the first in the city.
While New Dimension opened with the idea of bringing teenagers and young adults in, Agivayev is reluctantly working on changing some policies for the space after a searing response from Community Board 1.
Agivayev and his partner went before the board’s June 12 meeting, where the full board voted no to their gaming license application for the site. Much of the public’s response to the business prior to the vote against it focused on neighborhood children.
One resident worried that children would feel enticed to cut school to go to the center, while another thought games and technology were “the last thing” children needed today. Still, other residents asked about the pricing, as they believed the 2 hour pass for $40 is too high for children living in the neighborhood, especially in the nearby Williamsburg Houses.
Agivayev said he is still interested in opening up the center to people 13 and up, and will plan on doing more outreach to the neighborhood’s schools and children. In the interim, while operating with a temporary license, entry will be limited to people 18 and over to avoid issues with the board. Children between the ages of 13 and 17, however, will be permitted to play if they are accompanied by an adult.
In addition, the tinted windows outside will be covered to stop children from gathering and looking into the space.
Agivayev said he was surprised by the board’s reaction, as he thinks his business can help bolster small businesses in the area and bring something fun and safe to the neighborhood.
“They don’t know what this is,” Agivayev said. “They can’t say yes, they can’t say no, before they try.”
New Dimension is open everyday from 3 p.m. to midnight. Pricing depends on the activity and time, ranging from $30 for a one hour pass, and $15 an hour for the Omni arena.