'Urban Safari' Debuts Pop-Up Virtual Reality Arcade On Market Street

'Urban Safari' Debuts Pop-Up Virtual Reality Arcade On Market Street
A customer playing a virtual reality game at Urban Safari. (Photos: Lupita Uribe/Hoodline)
By Lupita Uribe - Published on August 24, 2016.

Urban Safari, an "arcade-style showroom" that allows customers to play around with virtual reality technology, has opened its second pop-up showroom on the ground floor of coworking space Digital Garage, at 719 Market St.

Owner Han Liu opened his first pop-up in the Palace of Fine Arts earlier in the summer, as a way to test people's inclination for virtual reality games. Liu's inspiration for these arcades comes from a combination of meeting local developers and seeing new products, and the excitement he sees when people try out VR for the first time.

"We are trying to make it a cool spot to try out what people make locally," said Liu. "It's a cool hangout spot."

Urban Safari owner Han Liu.

Using Oculus Rift and HTC Vive devices, visitors to Urban Safari can play four games: horror, job simulation, painting and shooting. (Liu is currently seeking new games to add to the list.) Two hand-held controllers track players' spatial boundaries and mimic their movements, with play costing $1/minute.

Unlike traditional video games, virtual games are "really about being immersed in a world, rather than you watching something," said Liu. "It's a completely different medium, like drawing on paper versus sculpting — the material is different, therefore, you can't recreate the experience."

The arcade will be at the Palace of Fine Arts until its renovations begin on September 9th.

The downtown Urban Safari arcade will be in place until the end of the month, while the location at the Palace of Fine Arts will remain open until the building begins renovations on September 9th.

The downtown location is open daily from 10am-7pm (8pm on Friday and Saturday), while the Palace of Fine Arts location (3301 Lyon St.) is open Tuesday-Thursday, 10am-6pm, Friday-Saturday, 10am-8pm, and Sunday, 10am-6pm. Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also book an appointment ahead of time for the downtown location on Urban Safari's website.