An old warehouse in Downtown Los Angeles just got a serious upgrade. It’s now home to Two Bit Circus, a 50,000-square-foot “micro-amusement park” that houses collaborative virtual reality games, escape rooms, HTC Vive stations, private gaming cabanas and lots more. Brent Bushnell, the company’s CEO, says, “The idea is, it’s small compared to Disneyland, but still huge for an entertainment complex—almost the size of a football field. Like an amusement park, it’s broken up into lots of pieces. We have a 100-seat interactive theater, a carnival midway, a virtual reality arena, a full restaurant and bar including a robot bartender, a futuristic arcade… a whole variety of things.” While the concept has been on the rise in recent years, Two Bit Circus differentiates itself with cutting-edge games created by the company’s artists and inventors.
Bushnell grew up in Silicon Valley, California before moving to Los Angeles. He met Two Bit Circus co-founder Eric Gradman at an engineer get-together at a Downtown LA bar. They bonded right away, and started building things together just for fun. Their first project was an interactive whiteboard: “You could draw on the whiteboard, and we projected a physics simulation that would bounce off of what you drew. We installed it at a party and people liked it, so we kept making more stuff like that.” They started Two Bit Circus in 2012. Bushnell describes the company as “a big band of nerds in Downtown L.A. that has been building attractions for years, either for ourselves or for brands.” They’ve done custom work for companies such as Samsung, Intel and Warner Brothers, and last year, they developed a cloud that rained tequila for the Mexican Board of Tourism.
Bushnell’s other favorite Two Bit Circus offering is Space Squad in Space. “This is one of our story rooms, and it’s a whole multiplayer, multi-role episodic adventure. Four, five or six of us are all on the bridge of a starship and we all have to work together to make sure we don’t crash into a planet," he explains. "What’s so exciting is that there’s a captain, a gunner, a navigator, a ship’s officer, and for each one of those roles, it’s really a different experience. The captain has to do one thing, the navigator is doing another thing, and they all have to really collaborate and communicate in order to accomplish the mission.” Each “episode” will involve a different mission.
You have to be willing to say, 'Sure, that’s the way we’ve always done it, but maybe it’s not the right way.'