Two Bit Circus is an adult playground located in the heart of the arts district in downtown LA. The upstart company founded in 2012, opened it’s SoCal doors in early September and has been receiving rave reviews from millenials to baby boomers alike. The large open-spaced warehouse has a plethora of entertainment options from virtual reality, escape rooms, arcade games, party rooms for rent, a plush bar and walk up kitchen.
The Weekly got a first-hand look and tour of the venue recently. Speaking with Co-Founder and CEO Brent Bushnell, we learned how this project came together, why now was the right time to open up shop and what’s in store for the future of innovative gaming.
OC Weekly (Michael Silver): What makes this place so special? Everyone is saying we need to come hang out here!
Brent Bushnell: The fundamental thing for us is social. Getting people together again. It’s one thing to be connected to a million people online, but what about five people live? All of our games are multi-player. We have story rooms that are 4-6 players in virtual reality. They each have different themes to feel like you’re really there exploring.
VR is definitely taking off these days.
We love VR but this is not, I repeat, not a VR arcade. About 20% of our stuff is VR but we have lots of other things. Space Squad in Space for example is a 6-player multi-role episodic. Everyone works together turning on the ship, getting through an asteroid belt, people playing the captain and different roles. It’s about communicating and having fun.
Additionally you can play in the VR arena. It’s social with up to four people playing at once. Everyone has microphones to talk with teammates. Exhibition also is part of the experience. If you’re not playing or want to watch, stand nearby and view on the monitors what they’re seeing and what’s happening.
Are these stand-alone features that groups of people sign up for?
Exactly, they last anywhere from 10 to 35 minutes and will get booked up super fast. The ideal way to visit here is to make a reservation ahead of time for a story adventure, then you’re guaranteed a time slot and can enjoy the rest of the place.
We’re also a big fan of secret things. We have secret hallways, closets, and adventures. You can access clues through a gumball like machine, scavenger hunt style.
I heard about your robotic bartender. Tell me more about this if you can.
It’s a collaboration between the robot and the bartender, they work together with a ferris wheel of booze. He has a lot of personality, mixing and shaking drinks. Really fun! We also have a full bar with 16 taps and fun seating arrangements that are ridiculous.
The food options seem to be a hit as well. What’s on the menu?
The kitchen area has a full menu, lunch of the weekends and dinner at night. We’ve got flatbreads, burgers, great hot dogs and all of our food is super high quality. Most of it is organic with gluten free and vegan options.
There’s a large room next to us, can you share what happens back there?
This is one of my favorites, this is our interactive game show. A 100-seat game show where everyone works together or against each other. We have touch screens that light up, you can get pulled up on stage to the podium to face off against somebody else. We have a wine tasting game too, it’s goofball stuff but very fun for all involved. There’s a lot of different options in here.
The arcade has your traditional skee ball and other varieties but I’m seeing some unique titles. Explain the differences.
A lot of the stuff we made. We have a dancing game, some based on billiards and shuffleboard, and a bunch of classics like Pac-Man and Street Fighter. Again being social, we have 4-player air hockey, we even have a 10-player arcade game titled Killer Queen. It’s 5-on-5 and people go crazy!
What are your typical hours of operation and are there plans to expand?
We open at 4pm on weekdays and 11am on weekends. We’re open until 1am every night. This is 65% of out stuff currently, all of this area is still going to fill out. We rushed to get open but we have a lot more coming soon. There’s a newsletter you can sign up for to stay informed. We’re going to start launching some exciting leagues and have a non-profit project for kids to build their own games. Existing developers excited to publish their own content should talk with us. We want to create new games for the public and offer private party events as well.
Two Bit Circus is located at 634 Mateo Street in Los Angeles. Visit their website twobitcircus.com for more info.
Michael Silver is a journalist and photographer based in Southern California. He covers music, sports, technology, and streetwear. Tips & pitches: firstname.lastname@example.org