Three years after it began as an international crowdfunding project on Kickstarter, the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality gaming headpiece, has finally become available for use by people in Qatar.
The device, which was bought by Facebook last summer for $2 billion, transports the player into the game’s world itself by creating an immersive 3D experience.
The Oculus debuted here at the IGN Convention – Qatar’s first gaming conference – to a positive reception.
Speaking to Doha News, Adam Abou-Gad, a 20-year old university student and a gaming enthusiast, said:
“It’s really awesome. I think once it gets around more, it’ll make for a greater gaming experience. When I tried it out, I felt like I was the character in the game, as if I’m in the game’s world. It makes the experience even more intense, and a whole lot more fun.”
Where to play
While some Qatar residents privately own Oculus Rift headpieces, there currently only appear to be a few that can be used by the mainstream public, some of which are currently owned by the Gaming Lounge.
The company, which first opened a gaming facility in 2013 in Al Sadd, launched a second branch at the Pearl-Qatar this week, that is mainly an anime and figurine store.
Nestled inside the Novo Cinema complex, the shop sells dolls, apparel and life-size busts of popular Hollywood characters.
Ali Marafi, the company’s Qatari co-founder and an avid gamer, said that the new facility was a response to a growing demand for gaming locally. Speaking about the Oculus Rift, he said:
“It’s a novelty because you cannot just go to a store and buy one (in Qatar). It’s the future of gaming, but is a long procedure.
You have to place an order with the company, and there’s a waiting list for about 6-8 months, and then you get it.”
He added, “It’s not long before virtual reality integrates itself with other sectors. It has great implications for the medical field, amusement parks, construction, real estate and other science-related fields.”
TGL’s store opens several months after the debut of Hobby Chan, a local anime and manga toy shop that caters primarily to residents who grew up watching dubbed Japanese cartoons that used to air on local television networks.
Marafi said that his company had started a small store upstairs in its Al Sadd branch of the Gaming Lounge, but decided to open another branch to cater to their growing female clientele.
“Qatari women are one of our biggest demographic in terms of collectors. We opened up in Novo because it’s a more neutral space as opposed to the Gaming Lounge in Al Sadd, which is a male-dominated area. We were getting calls and orders from a lot of women who couldn’t come to the Lounge,” Marafi added.
His comments mirror those of Abbas Ali, a member of the organizing team of the IGN Convention, who also said that Qatari women made up a large portion of the convention’s attendees.
With goods from popular shows like Naruto, 1 Piece and Attack of the Titans hailing from Dubai, Hong Kong, and Japan, and priced from around QR100 onwards, the Gaming Lounge also offers special collectible items, including a life sized bust of Batman for QR5,000.
The store also houses various pre-loved anime figurines.
“These vintage models aren’t available anymore. They’re ones that we grew up on, and that’s what the true gamers come for – the cartoons and games that we’ve known from our childhood,” Marafi said.
Finally, the store has two gaming pods, each costing QR25 per person per half hour, and the Oculus pod that costs QR50 per person per three games, each ranging from between 3 to 10 minutes.
The shop is open on weekdays from 1:30pm to 10:30pm, and on weekends from 2pm to 12:30am.