Brent Bushnell Co-Founder on Engineering Entertainment and Social Fun at New Two Bit Circus in Dallas » Dallas Innovates

Brent Bushnell
Co-founder and Chairman of the Board
Two circus bits
…at the official launch of the indoor mini-theme “Two Bit Circus” in Park Lane stores in Dallas.

After a soft opening two months ago, Two Bit Circus officially launched Tuesday in its Park Lane stores in Dallas, It houses 35,000 square feet of technologically enhanced entertainment. Attractions include arcade games. VR, AR, and “extended reality” experiences; “story rooms”; reimagined carnival games; and more.

There is even a robot bartender named after him Guillermoas well as the classic “Carnival Eats” to go along with the “Molecular Blends” cocktails.

It is the second location for Two Bit Circus, a concept originally launched in Los Angeles. “We’ve always known that Dallas community is the perfect audience Bushnell said last spring.

After its first official day, Two Bit Circus held a launch party – and it was packed with investors from DC factoryAnd several local startups and innovators looking to don a VR headset and kill some zombies. (topgolf chief executive officer Eric Anderson Among the company’s other investors.)

Co-founder and Chairman of the Board Brent Bushnell He flew for the launch, as did the co-founder and chief technology officer Eric Gradman and CMO Andy Levy.

Two of the co-founders of Bit Circus, Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman [Photo: Dallas Innovates]

Bushnell’s father founded both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese

Bushnell’s father Nolan founded both Atari and Chucky Cheese before the age of 40, so young Brent was raised as a “beta tester” for all their games and video games. Early in his career, Brent Bushnell developed games for corporate sponsors and animated things like the Super Bowl. This led him to build the STEAM Carnival – an educational component of STEAM Education, to introduce these types of games to children. That’s when he and Gradman decided, “You know, let’s get a permanent home for all of this.” Born to Bit Circus.

Co-founders Gradman and Bushnell met nearly 15 years ago. They both had “normal” engineering jobs before venturing into the world of small amusements. Gradman has a colorful history as a circus performer, professional whistleblower, automaton, and inventor. He previously worked with a government contractor to build robot prototypes. I think DoD work.

“It was a really cool piece of work,” Gradman told us at the launch party last night. But, he says, Two Bit Circus fits his personality. Now that he’s creating things that are an entertaining blast for Two Bit Circus guests—and keeping their walk on top, Gradman seems right at home.

Bringing people together with multiplayer games

HoloGate. [Photo: Dallas Innovates]

One of the things we saw at Two Bit Circus last night was an endless series of combos bobbing across the concrete floor, finding their way into everything from Hungry Hippo to futuristic, floor-shaking VR HyperDeck to story rooms (its version of Hungry Hippo) escape rooms), where teams race to do things like rescue an “Operating Room” doll.

All of this teamwork is part of the plan, Bushnell told us.

“In the amusement industry, a lot of it is built around single-player games,” he said. “It’s industry lore that it has to be single player. That was something we said no. Most things here are multiplayer, and you get two to four people together. That was a fun design limitation. But it’s important, especially post-COVID, that we all get We live in one person. We’re a little on the mental health front.”

The team creates 70% of the games in the “circus” – virtual and augmented reality are attractions

Flying AR/VR Dinosaur at Two Bit Circus. [Photo: Dallas Innovates]

CMO Andy Levy He told us that the company’s team created 70% of the games at the sprawling site.

“You remember frenzy, the video game where you have to demolish buildings? Levi showed us a game that had two real wrecking balls that players could swing to cause damage that scored points. “This is the physical version of him. That’s the thing about our games — they’re really meant to be physical games that you can play together.”

There is also a realistic version of candy crushVR rollercoasters and much more.

A lot of the fun at Two Bit Circus, Bushnell said, is watching people go to whole other worlds through virtual reality — or experiencing it yourself.

Show why humans are “hackable”.

Two of the attendees at the grand opening Ceremony of Circus Pt. [Photo: Quincy Preston]

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It shows the power of the mind — how permeable humans are, because you’re standing on solid concrete. There’s nowhere your body can go in real life. But in VR, you’re holding on to a rickety rope and ladder. It’s vibrational and all that stuff combined” makes people feel They escaped to another world.

“In the HyperDeck, people are screaming at zombies. Your rational mind is like, I’m on the floor. I’m in the middle of a mall, right? I’m fine — and then you get those VR zombies live and you’re in the game.”

There’s also the old-school classic SkeeBall at Two Bit Circus, along with a cool modern shooting gallery with pistols and rifles that electronically shoot down old tin cans, spinning ducks, and other targets.

“Because, you know, we’re in Texas after all,” Levy said.

More scenes from Two Bit Circus:

Guillermo, the robot bartender. [Photo: Dallas Innovates]

HoloGate at Two Bit Circus [Photo: Dallas Innovates]

Hyperdeck two bit circus [Photo: David Seeley]

“Story Room” at Two Bit Circus. [Photo: David Seeley]

Old school Skee-Ball at Two Bit Circus [Photo: David Seeley]

Brent Bushnell. [Photo: Dallas Innovates]


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  • With investors including Capital Factory and CEO TopGolf, the venue will feature 35,000 square feet of technology-enhanced entertainment. Attractions will include arcade games; VR, AR, and “extended reality” experiences; “Story Rooms (Escape)”; Reimagined Carnival Games, and more.

  • The last word on Dallas Innovates.  You find

    Read Who Said What in our roundup of quotes on all things North Texas, including by ENO8’s Jeff Francis; MyndVR’s Chris Brickler and Ted Wirth; Axxess’ John Olajide; Ron Pressman of the Urban Land Institute; Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. Katie Edwards of the Maf Foundation; Yi Hong from UT Arlington; Ben Caballero from HomeUSA.com; ParkHub’s George Baker Sr.; and more.

  • Like all other sites, Deep Ellum offers interactive digital games for groups to play in “fun smart rooms”. As you can see from the less loaded players above, it’s not about augmented reality or virtual reality. Instead, the “gameboxes” feature a range of technologies including projection mapping, touch screens using the company’s patented Lidar, 3D motion tracking, and surround sound.

  • Activate Games says it offers “the next level in entertainment, fitness and gaming.” Its six locations in Canada and the US have up to 11 rooms with laser mazes, touch-screen climbing walls, arcade-style target walls, flashing basketball hoops, and more — with your score tracked by an RFID bracelet. You can “put your mind and body to the test” when the new Plano location opens at the end of this year.

  • Powered by Say Yes to Dallas and presented by Google, the eighth annual HackDFW has connected hundreds of aspiring techies with several Fortune 100 companies. It was a unique 48-hour marathon that challenged more than 550 people from 80 universities. Tech teams have created ways to innovatively approach waste management, climate change, better understand Supreme Court decisions, and much more.

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