The Rise of VR Arcades in Colorado

It’s been a couple years since advanced virtual reality (VR) consoles entered the mainstream market and broke everyone’s idea of what VR can actually do. These latest developments in VR technology are lightweight, intuitive to operate, and adaptable to a number of applications and multi-sensory inputs – essentially pulling our science fiction-based conceptions of VR much closer to reality. However, when retail prices for modern VR systems proved to be too expensive for common households, the media hype surrounding VR took a slow turn.

Enter the VR arcade. Thanks to these futuristic establishments suddenly popping up in Denver and other cities in the state, you no longer need to spend hundreds of bucks to get your hands and eyes on the latest entertainment tech. But can Colorado’s currently available VR entertainment facilities actually live up to the hype? Is this new VR the experience that gamers and tech enthusiasts have been waiting for? The short answer to that is a resounding yes..

Head Games: the First Public VR Arcade in Denver

"This is somewhere anyone of any age or background could come and try out VR and any kind of experience they want to – have a different experience every time, explains Head Games co-founder Nathan Hostetler in an inverview with 9 News. But why take anyone’s word for it when you can just go there yourself. Located at W. Colfax Avenue, right in the heart of the state capital, this VR arcade opened just last year as the first public VR facility in the city. Today, they offer four separate HTC Vive headsets, each connected to a HyperX Cloud II headphone and assigned to its own open space – designed for free omni-directional movement of up to five feet. With over 40 games and experiences offered here, it’s the perfect place for first-timers to sample VR’s never-before-seen capabilities brought to life.

Veterans, Take Your Places at Kaboom VR

Meanwhile, near Windsor Lake is a VR arcade that has a total of 15 machines – comprised of not just VR headsets, but also the auxiliary controllers that expand the VR experience in this youthful place. But don’t let the chill vibe fool you. This is one of those arcades that make veteran gamers both excited and comfortable. It’s all thanks to the fact that Kaboom VR actually holds regular player tournaments to show off stuff like their racing cockpits, other sports controllers, and top-of-the-line PCs (for more “traditional” gaming). If you’re confident in your skills, you can work your way to the top rankings of games like Project Cars 2, Beat Saber, and Holoball, with the added chance of your name being features at Kaboom VR’s website.

Epic VR's Growing Epic Community

This one’s all the way down in Citadel Mall at Colorado Springs. Epic VR is proof positive that even sleepy mountain towns appreciate cutting edge entertainment technologies. The rather huge spaces available here allows Oculus and HTC Vive headset users to move freely, with facilities that also allow your guests to watch your virtual experience. Much like the founders of the other pioneering VR arcades operating in Colorado, Epic VR’s Joseph Johnson is all about sharing potentially groundbreaking experiences with the rest of the community. I saw an opportunity, and I’d like to give people an opportunity as well, to do things that they sometimes can’t afford. So we tried to make it affordable, where people could come in and play anytime.”

VR Literally Shows the Future of Real Estate

While these arcades started opening for business just last year, VR-enabled tools for enhancing business processes have actually been gestating in this state for quite some time now. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Colorado's red hot property market. The Denver Post provides an in-depth look at how real estate firms like Kentwood City Properties and NAVA Developments have already been using the same tech to attract early buyers of their yet-to-be-finished residential units. “We started our pre-sales very early with several years to go before move-ins,” explains NAVA’s director of marketing Sarah Stone. As potential luxury condo buyers walk through the completed, fully-furnished, and completely digital versions of their future homes, it’s easy to see how useful and influential practical VR tech can eventually become.

VR: An Emerging Central Player in Nearly Every Key Industry

As you can probably already imagine, different applications of VR have already been making similar leaps and bounds across other states and industries. Where do you think the equipment for the above-mentioned arcades were sourced from? In the east coast, it's doubtless that there’s serious money to be made via VR. In fact, online casino guide Gambling.com offers a comprehensive list of New Jersey-based virtual casinos already delving into VR-enabled game play. It is in fact not rare for regular players of live VR casinos to sometimes develop friendly, amiable relationships with the live dealers that they consistently encounter online, some of which have actually garnered their own small group of loyal fans. Meanwhile, in institutions like the University of California, VR has taken a central role in the practical training of both students and professionals in various medical fields and specializations. In fact, during the last couple years, VR developers and engineers have been collaborating with some of the most experienced doctors in the country with one goal in mind: to create the most efficient, medically-accurate, realistic, and intuitively-designed VR training modules for nearly every medical procedure that can be considered essential, extremely risky, or impossibly difficult.

Yes, you read that right: the same advanced entertainment system which rewards you for accurately swinging virtual sabers to a given beat could also be responsible for creating the most well-informed and well-trained generation of medical professionals in history.

Given these recent and major developments in VR, we’d likely have to feign surprise when concert organizers eventually offer VR passes for absent but dedicated fans. This bodes well for the unlucky folks who live in Colorado but somehow often miss the best nights at Red Rocks – like that one time when visionary trip-hop musician Bonobo shared the stage with Chet Faker. Of course, nothing beats actually being physically present at your favorite artists' performances. But with VR tech already undergoing heavy development in a number of significant American industries, who knows just how epic it will be to attend future gigs from the comfort of your own virtual reality.

Denver Holiday Markets

Denver Christkindl Market | Nov. 16 - Dec. 23 

This annual event brings authentic German and European holiday traditions to Denver’s downtown (1515 Arapahoe St.)! Guests can find delicious cuisine, festive German drinks, handmade jewelry, toys, clothing, gifts and much more. Live entertainment is featured inside the festival tent every evening, and dancing is encouraged! This market is planned and executed by the German American Chamber of Commerce – Colorado Chapter (GACC-CO).

 Denver Christkindl Market

Denver Christkindl Market

Union Station Holiday Market by Denver Flea | Friday's-Sunday's Nov. 23-25, 30-Dec. 2, Dec. 7-9 & Dec. 14-16th, 2018

The Union Station Holiday Market by Denver Flea will include four weekends of shopping, festivities and winter fun - kicking off on Black Friday, Nov. 23 at the historic Denver Union Station! 100s of Colorado’s best makers and artisan brands will pack the Plaza of Union Station each weekend throughout the season along with music, eats, drinks, activities and more. We’ll be there opening day (Friday 23rd) so check our Instagram @ultra5280 to see this year’s market in action! Tickets are $5.

 Denver Flea

Denver Flea

Stapleton Holiday BAZAAR | November 29, 2018

Shop, Sip, and Mingle with Colorado’s finest craft, fashion, and art makers for one night only at Stapleton Holiday BAZAAR inside The Shops at Northfield. This BAZAAR will feature over 40 craft vendors including Beer, Cider, Wine & Spirit tastings throughout the evening, along with festive music and more! 4-10 PM, GA Admission is free.

 RiNo Holiday BAZAAR

RiNo Holiday BAZAAR

RiNo Holiday BAZAAR | December 7-9, 2018

Taking over Walnut Street at 28th St. from December 7 – December 9, the RiNo Holiday BAZAAR hosts over 100 hand-picked local craft, fashion, and food vendors, with local breweries, cideries and mead booths onsite pouring holiday-themed drinks and participating in the BAAZAR’s Shop & Sip program.

A combination of outdoor pop-up shops sprinkled with fashion trucks and cozy, heated tents, the RiNo Holiday BAZAAR will spark the festive spirit for all with warm drinks and fire pits, funky music, and a selection of Denver Metro’s best food trucks on hand and a full bar! RiNo BOOZ hall, located in the heart of the BAZAAR, will be open all weekend long serving an array of Colorado crafted spirits and has bottles available to purchase.

Admission to RiNo Holiday BAZAAR is free until 7 PM on Friday, and before 12 PM on Saturday and Sunday, with GA tickets available for $5 at the door. Or RSVP at denverbazaar.com for free admission all weekend! Drink sampling packages are also available, with a range of options to fit your Shop & Sip experience. Please click here for details and more information on all Shop & Sip packages.

Yes Please Makers Market | December 8 & 9, 2018
Keeping it real this holiday season with a free, maker-hosted, vendor-friendly market starring 100(ish) of our favorite makers. After being part of the local Denver market circuit, Yes Please founders Kiwi Schloffel (of Craft Boner) and Taylor Barkin (of Moore Collection) wanted to create something with the vendor experience in mind: accessible, affordable booth pricing, attention to locals-only goods, and a friendly, supportive community. Tickets are free, but an RSVP is required. The first 50 people to show up each day get awesome totes from Craft Boner. 

 Yes Please Makers Market

Yes Please Makers Market

By Tiffany Candelaria

Safeword X Ultra5280 : A Look Into the Boss Babes of Denver

 Logo by Justine Henderson

Logo by Justine Henderson

We took some time to interview Bryn Carter and Shayla Preeshl, to talk about the amazing girl power forward collective that they started. Bringing boss babes from all walks of life together, creating connections, promoting local businesses, and sharing good quality time together,

 Photo by Sara Palandeng

Photo by Sara Palandeng

Tell me a little about the bad ass babes that created Safeword. What are each of your backgrounds? What brought the two of you together? What things started happening in your life that drove you to wanting a project of this nature? What was the turning point in your life that brought you to this thing that is Safeword.

B: I’m a Midwest girl, I moved here from a city outside of Chicago called Rockford after living in Australia for a while. The two of us actually met on a shoot a year ago – Shayla was styling and I was modeling. We clicked immediately and started hanging out after that. In all honesty, the idea for Safeword was really finalized one night at my house after a lot of wine haha. But before that, we had attended creative meet-ups (where we found a lack of female attendees) and women entrepreneur events (which we found to be full of cliques) and realized there was a real need for a place for female creatives and entrepreneurs to come together and network while growing alongside one another both personally and professionally. We refer to it as our coming-to-Jesus moment that night but between the two of us, we know so many amazing women in this city and our hope is to get these women working with one another and eventually take this to other cities as well.

 

S: I hail from small-town Montana, and have a background in wardrobe styling and marketing. I had lived in Denver for a few years, and found it difficult in my time here to connect with fellow creative women. Another turning point for us was when we had attended a local meetup, and it felt the opposite of welcoming for the babes who attended. We realized we need to do something for the ladies, there is too much talent here that is underrepresented!

 

Tell me a little about Safeword itself. What does the word mean/why did you choose this title?. Y’all have thrown some awesome events over the last few months, I attended the last at Ft. Greene and had an awesome time. What’s the purpose of events like these?

Well, we like to play a lot with words and their meanings. For example, on our website we have a section called ‘Centerfolds’ which has always referred to usually a sexy woman in the middle of some raunchy magazine. We wanted to reclaim these words that may have been used to degrade or to put down women and now our ‘Centerfold’ section is where we interview amazing creative women and entrepreneurs who share their stories. Safeword is the same – we wanted to use a work that represented a safe place that women could come together and feel comfortable.

The purpose of these events is to do networking differently – we like to have amazing artists and business owners there who can show their work, do their work, sell their products and meet some incredible women along the way. From our previous networking experiences, we had felt a sense of in-authenticity. Interactions felt robotic and forced. We always describe our events as hanging out with your girlfriends. We have a ton of ladies who come to them alone, and end up leaving with a babe squad worth of contacts and friendships by the end.

 

What was the goal in creating this group? How has it been going and how can local babes keep perpetuating the growth of that?

The goal is simple really – get all these amazing women together in one spot so they can network and build this business while also building their friend groups. We had a lot of women who just moved to the city come to our last event and reach out to thank us after because they were having such a hard time meeting women, and after our event they had some genuine new friends to hang out with. It’s things like those moments that let us know we are doing something right and hopefully will keep growing Safeword into something great. We hope to bring this to a national level, as we know of markets that are even more difficult to meet women in these industries than Denver. One other goal we focus on is creating an open dialogue amongst women, so instead of being pit against one another we can conquer avenues together through those relationships. The support we have received locally has been overwhelming. We launched this as a passion project, but had no idea how our audience would react. The fact that it has exceeded our expectations in growth by a long shot continues to motivate us.

 Photo by Sara Palandeng

Photo by Sara Palandeng

 

What upcoming events do we have to look forward to? Any extra awesome stuff coming in the near future?

 People always ask why we aren’t doing events all the time haha and we get asked weekly to partner with people on other events, but end of the day, we are not an event company and we really have to commit to why we started Safeword and stick to the quarterly networking events. Shayla and I also do this as a side hustle – she works full -time for a bad ass, women-owned and operated PR firm in town, I am a realtor and working to open a women’s co-working space (details coming soon babes). This is something we feel so strongly about and we are beyond thankful for all the amazing women we have met and the support we have been shown. Safeword is what it is because of the incredible babes of this city. Look for our next big event in the winter but might be one or two beforehand – we will be sure to keep you informed.

Follow the Safeword website here and follow these lovely babes on Instagram to keep up with the amazing things to come!

 Photo by Kim Desmond

Photo by Kim Desmond

Korean BarbieQ Pop Up Experience

Last weekend, the vacant restaurant space beneath Larimer Square transformed into a special pop-up experience themed around Korean BarbieQ. Odd concept, but cool creation that blended Barbie-themed decor and drinks with Korean barbecue. The pop up experience returns again this Thursday through Saturday August 25th, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at 1414 Larimer, Denver. Tickets include dinner and drinks - get tickets here:  https://www.thricepopup.com/#tickets

After this weekend, the BarbieQ will then be deconstructed to make way for another pop-up concept by OZ Architecture Associate Principal and Director of Brand Experience Design Abigale Plonkey. “I’ve always wanted to create a pop-up event, and I’ve seen them successful in New York and LA and thought this was an opportunity to bring it to Denver,” Plonkey said. "So we came up with the concept of Thrice — food, drink, design. It always has to have those three elements to make it unique. It can’t just drink, it can’t just be food and it can’t just be about design.” Chef Bill Espiricueta of Smok is preparing the food for this pop-up, and Shawn Campbell, lead bartender at El Five, curated the cocktails.

After the Korean BarbieQ wraps up this weekend, be on the lookout for the next concept — Cosmotropical, a David Bowie-inspired event where outer space meets tiki bar. The decor will focus on astronomy and have lots of neon. The third event will be Chroma, during which the room will change colors as different courses are served!

Photos by Josh Stephens

New this June at Denver's Longest-Running Block Party | People's Fair

People’s Fair Art & Music Festival is Denver’s largest and longest-running block party, which celebrates its 47th year at Civic Center Park, June 1-3, 2018. People’s Fair celebrates the best of the Mile High City, including music; culture; fitness; food and beverage; fine art; and a makers’ marketplace produced in partnership with Denver Flea.

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They are kicking things off Friday, June 1. with a featured concert from MAX, who's current hit, “Lights Down Low,” ft. gnash, hit number one on Billboard’s Emerging Artists and Adult Pop Songs charts earlier this year. A variety of free concerts will follow MAX’s performance throughout the weekend: a full day of bluegrass performances on the festival’s main stage on Saturday, June 2, featuring Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs, Turkeyfoot, Lonesome Days, Kitchen Dwellers, and Trout Steak Revival. Sunday, June 3, Moon Taxi will make their only Colorado appearance this summer at 4:30 pm, with The Other Black  opening for them at 3 pm. Additional live entertainment will showcase an eclectic range of Denver talent, including performances from Dazzling Divas Drag Show, Colorado Mestizo Dancers, and dance groups performing everything from ballet to belly dancing!

The Mural Project is back this year, a live art competition in which teams of young, local artists paint murals onsite during the festival. Many teams return to the Mural Project year after year, allowing attendees to witness transformations in the up-and-coming artists, who develop positive self-expression, time management, critical thinking and more through participating in the project. There is also a fine art show featuring more than 100 artists, beer & wine garden, a variety of fitness vendors, fitness-oriented events, such as free community yoga classes courtesy of CorePower Yoga, hosted at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday on the main stage. New this year, the “Outdoor Adventure Fest” will invite attendees to experience the Colorado outdoors in the heart of the city, with a climbing wall, a kayak pool, goat yoga and more.

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In addition to highlighting the unique communities found in every corner of Denver, People’s Fair raises funds for nonprofit organizations. The event primarily benefits Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, although all of the beverage booths at the festival are staffed by volunteers from various nonprofit organizations, who raise funds via tips received at their bars. 2018 community partners include Project Angel Heart and Colorado Gay Rodeo Association.


Reserve VIP tickets, your free yoga ticket, or $5 general admission ticket to MAX at  https://peoplesfair.com/tickets/

Photos by Ryan Cox

BRECKENRIDGE BREWERY RELEASES THE 2018 OFFICIAL COMIC CON BEER “RAZZNAROK”

Launch Party to Take Place Thursday, May 17th at Stoney's Bar and Grill

WHO:  Breckenridge Brewery and Denver Comic Con (DCC) will officially launch the 2018 Comic Con Beer, RAZZNAROK, on May 17th at Stoney's Bar and Grill with live music, games, cosplay, and the first of many collectible pint glass giveaways. The beer’s name was the winner of the annual “Name the Denver Comic Con Beer” contest which beat out more than 800 submissions during the online contest. RAZZNAROK was inspired by the widely popular 2017 Marvel Comic book film: Thor: Ragnarok.

The 2018 DCC beer is a Belgian style witbier brewed with fresh raspberry puree. For the seventh straight year, Breck will be releasing the beer along with limited edition DCC beer pint glasses. This year’s Razznarok glass features artwork by local comic artist Morgan Beem.

After the launch party, RAZZNAROK will stay on tap at Stoney's through Denver Comic Con. Other pubs within walking distance to the Colorado Convention Center will serve the beer leading up to and during the event. Follow Breckenridge Brewery on Facebook and Twitter for information on other pint glass giveaway events during Denver Comic Con. This information will also be posted on breckbrew.com in the weeks prior to the DCC.

WHAT: For seven years Breckenridge Brewery has brewed a special beer exclusively for Denver Comic Con (DCC). The first 200 people to this FREE event will receive a limited collector’s series “Razznarok” pint glass featuring custom design by artist Morgan Beem. Colorado's premiere party band, 6 Million Dollar Band will be bringin' the 80s energy to keep the dance floor movin' all night!

WHERE: Stoney's Bar & Grill 1111 Lincoln St. Denver, CO

When:Thursday, May 17th

- Doors 7pm

- Live music by 6 Million Dollar Band 8pm

- DJ 10pm

About “Razznarok!”

Razznarok is a time-honored, Belgian-style ale with a tart pink twist. Brewed with unmalted wheat, orange zest, coriander and fresh raspberry puree, this unfiltered, light-bodied beer has fruity notes of raspberry & citrus, a touch of spice, and a pink blush of color. Refreshing. Surprising. Sprightly. Whimsical.

Past winners of the "Name the Comic Con Beer" contest are The Fantastic Pour, The Caped Brewsader, Brews Wayne, Hulk's Mash, Snape-ricot, and I Am Brewt.

 

Denver's Independent Comics & Art Expo

The artist-centric event, Denver's Independent Comics & Art Expo (DiNK), is a celebration of independent artists, writers, creators, zine makers and publishers, and will be taking over all three floors of the McNichols Civic Center Building April 14 & 15, 2018. The event is comprised of entertainment, panel discussions, craft sessions, adult coloring, art auctions, comedy shows and the Mountain-West's first Comic and Art Awards ceremony 'The DINKy's.' This year, Dink Denver welcomes screen actor, creator and writer John Leguizamo of HBO series Ghetto Klown. Fans will get to meet Leguizamo through a series of meet & greet opportunities, panel discussions and even selfie sessions!

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"Sophisticated yet never dull, DiNK sources talent that has both wit and grit, with topics ranging from social justice to the antisocial and everything in between." More than art, displayed works include published books, manuscripts, zines, paintings and graphic novels. DINK provides an outlet for a talented cast of independent artists, creators, urban and tattoo artists, zine creators and graphic novelists to showcase their work for two days in the Mile High City each representing the counter-culture and the independent spirit of art in its many languages and styles. 

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Loaded with late night and adult programming, cocktails, and two complete days of activities, DINK prides itself in providing a vessel for fans to converse and imbibe with the art creators in a unique, intimate environment. Free admission for ages 17 ans under. For adult 2-day passes, VIP upgrades and additional experiential ticketing opportunities check out DinkDenver.com