With the help of a headset and headphones, students dive into a 3-D world and become space pirates on the ground level of the Reitz Union.
Inside the Vscape virtual-reality arcade, located across from Wells Fargo, students can choose from 50 games that transport them to virtual worlds.
Brandon Farling, a UF philosophy senior, founded the company in January. It’s located inside the Retail Gator Hatchery, a space designated for student entrepreneurs to sell products.
The arcade is open Monday to Friday from noon to 6 p.m. To play games, students can pay anywhere between $5 and $60, depending on how long they want to play. Farling said his arcade will be available for free for students during remaining Spring GatorNights events.
Farling, 23, built his own PC to support the HTC Vive, a virtual-reality headset system, for his company, he said. He purchases the games from an entertainment platform, Steam. One of the games he offers allows students to gear up a bow and shoot arrows, while another allows players to paint 3-D art.
“I’ve always loved computers, and virtual reality is just the next step in computer evolution,” Farling said.
Farling wanted to start the company after trying a friend’s virtual reality system. He said being immersed in a virtual world was unlike anything he’d ever experienced.
“It’s really going to be the future, like computers were the future in the ‘80s,” Farling said. “The applications for virtual reality are limitless, and we have only just begun to scratch the surface.”
He plans to work with Benjamin Lok, a UF computer and information science and engineering professor, to develop Lok’s program Virtual Reality for Social Good, which will bring students together to develop virtual-reality projects to assist in exposure therapy for people overcoming phobias, he said. The program should start by Fall 2018.
Farling hopes Vscape will become a leader in hardware and software developments, he said. His goal is to provide affordable access to this cutting-edge technology.
Farling has entered his company into the UF Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition, where students will present their business plans to a panel of judges. He plans to walk away with the grand prize of $25,000 in April.
“Whether I win or lose the competition, I will be pursuing this idea with everything I have,” Farling said. “I quit my job to pursue this business.”
Nic Morton, a 20-year-old UF Japanese junior, put on the virtual-reality headset to play a space-themed shooting game called, “Space Pirate Trainer” on Monday. Lost in the virtual world, Morton dodged spaceships and bullets surrounding him using a controller.
“Playing a video game, even with a very simple concept, in a virtual-reality medium was really exciting,” Morton said.
Games offered at the arcade
- Tilt Brush
- Space Pirate Trainer
- Universe Sandbox 2
- Don’t Blink