Washington D.C. welcomes the opening of the East Coast’s first virtual reality escape room, “Oblivion.” The thrilling 60 minute brain teaser marries the adventurous concept of escape gaming and the technological marvels of virtual reality.
May it be of historic or political significance, throughout its history Washington D.C. has been home to quite a few firsts. However, not many would have guessed that the nation’s capital is going to be in the headlines when it comes to escape rooms.
In terms of history escape gaming is still a relatively newborn concept, since the first rooms have only opened little more than a decade ago. The idea behind escape rooms is cleverly simplistic: create a room full of puzzles and brain teasers, “lock” in a group of people (usually friends, families or co-workers), and give them 60 minutes to solve said puzzles in order to escape, or “win”. Teamplay, a ticking a clock, some excitement, and you have all the main elements of a proper entertainment.
Escape rooms usually have a theme, may it be a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery or a doomsday bunker, the setting is half the fun. This is where the idea of virtual reality comes into play, as Alex, the owner of Insomnia Escape Room DC puts it, “I had this idea for a while, putting together escape gaming and VR”. He adds, “I have quite a lot of experience in IT, and our escape rooms has been here for two years now, and I though, somehow marrying the two could be fun”.
Insomnia Escape Room has established itself as one of D.C.’s prominent escape rooms, they entertain hundreds of people every month. With Oblivion the creators went an extra mile to create a unique atmosphere, something that is futuristic enough for VR, so haunted houses were out of the question in this case. They needed something techy.
Enter Oblivion and it’s immersive story, which centers around a scientist by the name of Michael Hall, who is credited with inventing the world’s first artificial intelligence, ELIZA. In Oblivion’s lore artificial intelligence proved so successful that people began to use it in critical processes and everyday operations. However, suddenly ELIZA stopped responding to its masters. A built-in automatic security protocol, preventing anyone except the creator to control the A.I. was put in place. The problem is that Michael disappeared and can not be found. Society fell into a complete panic, and this where the brave escape room players enter, as they are the ones sent to figure out what exactly went wrong with ELIZA.
The future of escape rooms?
Many feel that the idea of escape gaming came at the right time. The tactile nature of pulling levers, fiddling with switches and searching for clues came as a welcome alternative to the somewhat disconnected nature of online gaming. Families finally had something fun to do together, not to mention the immense opportunities of corporate team building activities. After all, employees working together in a fun – non stressful – environment is the dream of all HR department heads!
Enter virtual reality, and we might have a match made in heaven. In the past three years VR headsets have outgrown their shiny tech gadget status and started making real headway in the entertainment industry. With more advanced headsets coming out every year, we could be talking about a $162 billion industry by 2020. With such trends already in motion, we would not be surprised to see Oblivion as the first of many VR escape rooms to come.
The preceding post was written and sponsored by Insomnia Escape Room DC.
The second annual DC Bike Ride is your chance to pedal down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, taking in the iconic sights of Washington, D.C., but without dodging traffic!
As a bonus, this year’s DC Bike Ride offers a fun and exciting Mother’s Day opportunity that the entire family (ages 3+) can enjoy. The 20-mile, car-free ride takes place Sunday, May 14, starting in West Potomac Park and finishing, after traversing closed roads in Washington and Arlington, on Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol.
DC Bike Ride begins at 8 a.m. and music and activities at the Finish Festival wrap up at 1 p.m. Registration is now open at this site. Register by March 26 and use the code ARLNOW to save $10.
The course, which will have live music and aid stations, is designed for riders of all fitness and experience levels. The ride is mostly flat, very scenic and noncompetitive. If 20 miles sounds like a lot, there is a 6.5-mile turnoff point, but most riders complete the course and start enjoying the Finish Festival in about 90 minutes.
DC Bike Ride was created in 2016 by Arlington-based Capital Sports Ventures as a way to “celebrate life on two wheels,” said Tassika Rodphotong Fulmer, senior director of business operations. “We wanted to do an event locally for the vibrant bike community, to get new folks onto bikes, and to provide a unique perspective in our nation’s capital.”
Tassika said last year’s inaugural DC Bike Ride raised $38,750 for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, to help support street safety initiatives in the region as part of Washington’s Vision Zero effort, which works to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2024.
New this year is an opportunity to sponsor riders from underserved communities. You can chip in $1, $5, $10 or $48 and sponsor the registration fees for selected participants from organizations like Gearin’ Up Bicycles whose purpose is to create career development opportunities and teach essential workplace skills to teenagers from underserved communities.
Children must be 3 years old or older and those under 7 participate for free but must ride in tandem or pulled in a trailer by an adult. Bike, tandem and trailer rentals from our partner Bike and Roll DC are available at DCBikeRide.com.
County Wary of Lifetime Dog Licenses — Virginia may soon have a new law that allows localities to issue lifetime dog licenses. However, Arlington officials say that the current 1-3 year dog licenses help remind residents to keep their rabies vaccinations up to date. [InsideNova]
Road Paving Season Begins in a Month — Arlington’s road paving season starts at the beginning of April and runs through October. Pre-paving concrete repairs have already begun. Residents whose streets are set to be paved this year can expect to receive notification letters from the county. [Arlington County]
Wait Times Improved at DMV — After a month of renovation work, the Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles office on S. Four Mile Run Drive reopened in January. Local and state officials held a ribbon-cutting for the renovated DMV location, which features “a new efficient countertop and workstation design to maximize customer flow and efficiency,” thus reducing wait times. [Facebook]
Native Plant Recommendations — Arlington County naturalist Alonso Abugattas has shared a list of his “favorite native plants for attracting and supporting wildlife.” [Mid-Atlantic Gardener]
Nearby: D.C. Issues Record Number of Tickets — The District of Columbia issued 2,760,482 traffic citations last year, an all-time high totalling $300 million in fines. That includes 1.1 million photo-enforced tickets, a 70 percent increase compared to a year prior. [WTOP]
Icy Saturday Morning — Several crashes were reported around Arlington Saturday as freezing rain turned roads and sidewalks into sheets of ice. The slippery conditions lasted for most of the morning, before a warm-up started melting the ice around lunchtime. [Storify]
Wreaths Laid at ANC — Despite the icy weather, tens of thousands of volunteers helped to lay 245,000 wreaths on grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery Saturday morning. Arlington County Police assisted with crowd control for the annual Christmastime event. [WTOP, The Blaze, Twitter]
Students, School Board Speak Out on Boundary Changes — At last week’s Arlington School Board meeting, students spoke in opposition to high school boundary changes some see as furthering racial segregation. School Board members, however, defended their recent boundary change vote. [Washington Post, InsideNova, YouTube]
Borderstan Closes, Editor Coming to ARLnow — Borderstan, ARLnow.com’s sister site that covers the mid-city neighborhoods of D.C., is shutting down at the end of the week. One of its co-editors, Tim Regan, will be joining the ARLnow team in January. [Borderstan, Washingtonian]
Photo courtesy Becca Collins
(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) D.C. police and Virginia State Police chased a stolen D.C. Housing Authority Police car down I-395 in heavy rush hour traffic Tuesday night.
Initial reports suggest a woman wanted for crack cocaine-related drug charges stole the police car in D.C. and then drove it onto I-395 in the direction of Virginia. The chase entered Arlington via the 14th Street Bridge around 5:30 p.m.
Arlington County Police did not engage in the pursuit, per department rules, according to scanner traffic.
A police helicopter was overhead, shining a spotlight down on the stolen car, as it continued to slowly make its way down traffic-clogged I-395. At least one multi-vehicle crash, near Washington Blvd, was reported during the pursuit.
Ultimately the suspect took the King Street exit into the City of Alexandria — going the wrong-way down the ramp, according to scanner traffic — and was boxed in by police.
The woman, who was reported to be pregnant, was quickly taken into custody. She was evaluated by medics for possible injuries.
Drivers should expect road and ramp closures on King Street at I-395. Numerous emergency vehicles remain on the scene as of 6:10 p.m.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) December 13, 2016
Update at 3:10 p.m. — From an updated Virginia State Police statement:
The Virginia State Police have charged Jessica M. Pierce, 26, of Stafford, Va., with one felony count of eluding police, one felony count of unauthorized use of a vehicle, one felony count of grand larceny, reckless driving and one misdemeanor count of giving false identification to law enforcement. The charges resulted from Pierce’s crash in the City of Alexandria.
Virginia State Police were assisting the Metropolitan-DC Police Department with a pursuit that entered Virginia on Interstate 395, when the suspect vehicle – a Ford Explorer – crashed in Alexandria Tuesday evening (Dec. 13). At approximately 5:35 p.m., as the Ford Explorer was taking the ramp from westbound King Street to northbound I-395, the Explorer rammed a marked Metro PD police cruiser involved in the pursuit. The Metro PD officer was then able to pin the suspect vehicle against the Jersey wall.
The suspect driver, Pierce, was taken into custody without further incident and transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
No police officers were injured in the crash. No other vehicles were involved in this crash.
The Virginia State Police is investigating the crash.
The Ford Explorer belonged to the DC Housing Authority Police Department.
High School Boundary Change Petition — Matthew Herrity, the Washington-Lee student who penned a widely-shared open letter to the School Board regarding its recent high school boundary change decision, has now started an online petition. The petition, which calls for increasing diversity at Arlington’s high schools, has more than 1,000 signatures. [Change.org]
Community Center, Gymnastics Contracts Approved — At its meeting on Saturday the Arlington County Board approved a $3.9 million contract to plan and design a new four-story Lubber Run Community Center, with a gymnasium, playgrounds, offices and underground parking. In response to heavy program demand, the Board also approved a $1.7 million addition of a second gymnastics area at the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center. [Arlington County]
Ebbin on Trump and Other Topics — “Trump is making me nostalgic for Reagan,” said state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) during a wide-ranging interview on the Kojo Nnamdi Show Friday. Ebbin also discussed casino gambling, with the opening of the new MGM casino in National Harbor, and Confederate monuments in Alexandria, among other topics. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]
D.C. Police Misconduct Story Has Arlington Connection — There’s an Arlington connection to one of the misconduct allegations against Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, the head of the D.C. police Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Liaison unit. Hawkins reportedly took two underage summer interns to Freddie’s, the LGBT bar in Crystal City, and laughed about one using a fake ID. She’s now facing possible disciplinary action for that and for allegedly showing the interns a homemade sex tape on her phone. [Fox 5, Fox 5]
D.C. police have released another video of a car sought in a hit-and-run crash that killed an Arlington man last week.
David Narvaez, 29, died after someone in a car ran into him in the West End neighborhood of the District this past Friday. He was crossing the road at New Hampshire Avenue and M Street NW about 2:45 a.m. when the driver hit him.
The video police distributed this week shows a dark-colored sedan traveling in the area. Cops also put out new photos of the car.
A news release adds:
The vehicle has a light colored, possibly yellow, rear license tag, and the vehicle has damage to the drivers’ side hood, fender, and windshield. The right front passenger is described as having a light complexion.
The Metropolitan Police Department is asking anyone with information about this case to call the police at 202-727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.
Video via YouTube/D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
(Updated at 12:21 p.m.) Someone behind the wheel of a car ran into and killed a 29-year-old Arlington man before driving away in Northwest D.C. early this morning.
The fatal hit-and-run crash happened at an intersection in the District neighborhood of West End around 2:45 a.m.
Arlington resident David Narvaez was crossing the street at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and M Street NW when someone driving a car hit him and then sped away, D.C. Police said.
Narvaez was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Authorities in D.C. are on the lookout for a dark colored vehicle (seen in the above video) in connection with the crash.
More on the hit-and-run crash from the Metropolitan Police Department:
Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Major Crash Unit are investigating a traffic fatality that occurred on Friday, August 19, 2016 at approximately 2:40 am.
A pedestrian was crossing the street in the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and M Street, Northwest, when he was struck by a vehicle that was heading southbound on New Hampshire Avenue, Northwest.
The driver of the vehicle involved failed to stop and continued driving. The pedestrian was transported to an area hospital, where he was pronounced.
The decedent has been identified as 29-year-old David Narvaez of Arlington, Virginia.
This case remains under investigation. The Metropolitan Police Department is asking anyone with information about this case to call the police at 202-727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.
Wahlburgers Coming to Ballston — Wahlburgers, the burger chain founded by the show biz Wahlbergs (Mark, Donnie, Paul), is coming to Ballston next year. The eatery will be located near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road. [Washington Post]
SER Expanding to Capitol Hill? — The team behind SER restaurant in Ballston — or, at least, part of the team — is opening a new restaurant on Capitol Hill in the former Sona Creamery and Wine Bar space. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Releases Cause of Derailment — What caused a Metro train to derail near the East Falls Church station on Friday? The transit agency says it was a deteriorated section of track in which the rails became too wide. [Washington Post]
Dark Star Park Day — Yesterday Arlington County held its annual observance of Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn. The public park, built in 1984, is designed to have its shadows line up once a year, on Aug. 1. [Storify]
County Touts Innovation Recognition — Three Arlington County programs have been recognized for innovation from the Virginia Association of Counties. [Arlington County]
Road Rage on a Bike Trail — Road rage isn’t something that only happens with motorists. Occasionally, it happens among cyclists as well, as this story from an incident on the Mt. Vernon Trail demonstrates. [Storify]
Earlier Metro Closing Time? — Metro is considering closing at 10 p.m. on Sundays and midnight each other day of the week. The earlier closing times will help with track maintenance and safety, Metro says. But Arlington County Board member and Metro board member Christian Dorsey says there needs to be more public discussion of the change, saying that “We are a region that requires transit service as late as possible to keep up with commerce, to make sure that it’s not just a commuter system.” [Reston Now, WTOP]
Home Prices Up Five Percent — The median home sale price in Arlington is now $625,000, up 5 percent compared to one year ago, according to the real estate firm Long and Foster. [Patch]
Big Fire in D.C. — The smoke from a fire in D.C. yesterday afternoon was visible to much of Arlington. The fire damaged a small apartment building near Logan Circle and injured a dog. [Borderstan]
Arlington Firm Investigates DNC Hack — Arlington-based cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect says it has traced the hacker who claimed responsibility for stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee back to Russia. The firm says the hacker “is more likely a collection of people from the propaganda arm of the Russian government.” [Daily Beast]
Local DJ Profiled — DJ Neekola, one of the D.C. area’s most sought-after club and event DJs, is a Pentagon City resident who used to do IT work for the government. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
W-L Defeats Yorktown for Soccer Title — Washington-Lee captured the 6A North boys soccer title last night with a 3-0 win over Yorktown. Both teams are still in the state soccer tournament: “The Generals face Virginia 6A South runner-up Grassfield in a state semifinal on Friday at Robinson while Yorktown will play First Colonial.” [Washington Post]
SafeTrack and Traffic Latest — I-395 and I-66 were jammed this morning and some local roads were similarly backed up with traffic as Metro’s SafeTrack work on the Orange Line continues. An ARLnow poll yesterday showed that 56 percent of respondents had a slower than usual commute during the first weekday of WMATA’s maintenance surge. Meanwhile, Metro says its was “pretty much at the maximum of what we could move” through the track work zone on Monday. [DCist]
Higher D.C. Minimum Wage Could Benefit Arlington — A conservative group claims in a new report that 1 in 5 D.C. businesses would consider moving to Arlington if the District enacts a $15 minimum wage. There are reports that the D.C. Council is poised to approve a measure today that would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020. [Washington Free Beacon, Washington Post]
Board to Consider Fire Station No. 8 Plan — The Arlington County Board is set to consider the recommendation of the Fire Station No. 8 task force that the station should remain on Lee Highway rather than moving to public land near Marymount University. The existing fire station would need to be renovated and a temporary fire station constructed for use during the renovation, raising costs compared to the original plan to move the station. [InsideNova]
County Home Building Records Digitized — Arlington County has digitized its printed home building and alteration records, known as “house cards.” The records are now available online, searchable by address. [Arlington County]
Church Celebrates Final Service Before Demolition — About 80 members of the 86-year-old Arlington Presbyterian Church gathered for the final Sunday service before the congregation leaves for a temporary worship space down the block and the church is demolished to make way for affordable housing. [Washington Post]
Photo by Jackie Friedman
Arlington is no longer an island unto itself for Car2Go members.
The car-sharing service announced yesterday that it had received the go-ahead from the District Dept. of Transportation to allow one-way trips between Arlington and D.C. Starting Thursday, May 26, Car2Go members will be able to drive from Arlington and park in D.C., and vice versa.
The Arlington County Board approved cross-jurisdictional trips at its meeting last month. A county staff report noted that Car2Go was struggling to gain traction as an Arlington-only service, and had reduced the number of cars in the county from 95 to 25.
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) May 11, 2016
Starting May 26, you'll be able to end trips in DC or Arlington no matter which one you start in! pic.twitter.com/ETMUrSEVTh
— car2go D.C. (@car2goDC) May 11, 2016
Firings at Peter Chang After Receipt Incident — Three employees have reportedly been fired and the chef’s own daughter is also on the chopping block at Peter Chang restaurant along Lee Highway. The firings come after a server included the insults “i have a small penis” and “im a plad [sic] a**hole” on a customer receipt. Chang has promised to improve service at his restaurant. [Washington Post]
Arlington Restaurants on Cheap Eats List — More than a dozen Arlington eateries have been included in Washingtonian magazine’s list of the top 100 inexpensive restaurants in the D.C. area. Among them: Bayou Bakery, Cheesetique, Pupatella, Ray’s Hell Burger, Yona and Peter Chang. [Washingtonian]
Video of Track Issue at Court House Station — A video taken inside the Court House Metro station shows sparks and smoldering from the track area. The video comes after a number of well-publicized electrical issues at Metro. “It was kind of weird watching infrastructure fail before my very eyes,” said the man who took the video. [Washington Post]
Tech Company Saves the Day for Theft Victims — Course Hero, a Silicon Valley-based company that provides study materials, has paid for a scholarship for the Penn State student whose mom left her purse, with $10,000 in tuition money inside, in an
Arlington Falls Church Dunkin Donuts. Police still have not found the woman who stole the purse. [NBC Washington]
Most of Crystal City Could Change Hands — Vornado, the property owner that owns more than half of the square footage in Crystal City, is considering spinning off its D.C. properties from those it owns in New York. [Washington Post]
D.C. Complaining About DCA Flights — D.C.’s attorney general has sent an email to the FAA asking that flights to and from Reagan National Airport be shifted away from the District. In 2015 the FAA received 8,670 noise complaints from those in the District, 6,500 of them from the same person. [Washington Post]
In Rosslyn: WJLA Stays, Politico Implodes — In Rosslyn yesterday, there were two big pieces of local media news in the same building, on the same day. First, it was announced that Sinclair Broadcast Group signed a five-year, 100,000 square foot lease that will keep WJLA and NewsChannel 8 in the 1000/1100 Wilson Blvd twin towers. Later, it was revealed that Politico — which renewed its lease in the same complex in 2014 — would soon be losing CEO Jim VandeHei, chief political reporter Mike Allen and three senior executives. [Washington Business Journal, Huffington Post]
Arlington OKs Gondola Study Contribution — Arlington County will kick in $35,000 to study the feasibility of a gondola running from Rosslyn to Georgetown. Some County Board members expressed skepticism of the plan, though the county’s economic development director said it would at minimum give local hotels and tourism a boost. [Washington Post]
Apartment Complex Deemed Historic District — The Arlington County Board yesterday voted to designate Cambridge Courts — “a garden apartment complex built from rationed materials to house defense workers during World War II” — a local historic district. The apartment complex along Route 50 will now be protected from redevelopment. [Arlington County]
New Rules for Bus-Only Lanes — New rules have been approved for the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. After it opens this spring, the transitway’s lanes in Crystal City will be designated bus-only during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Police will issue warning to drivers who violate the rules during the first 30 days, then will issue $200 fines to lane violators after that. [WTOP, Arlington County]
County Board Approves ‘Complete Streets’ Guidelines — The Arlington County Board has approved a set of guidelines intended to “help transform busy neighborhood streets into ‘Complete Streets’ – ones that will be safe for users of all ages and abilities whether they are walking, driving, cycling or using transit.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore
The Arlington County Board on Thursday will consider joining a partnership to study the feasibility of a gondola running from Rosslyn to Georgetown.
County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending approval of the multi-party partnership, which calls for Arlington County to contribute $40,000 to the study’s expected $250,000 cost.
Among the parties to the proposed Memorandum of Understanding are the Georgetown Business Improvement District, which first floated the gondola idea, along with the District of Columbia Dept. of Transportation, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, Georgetown University and property owners JBG, Gould Properties and Vornado.
The Georgetown BID would be the biggest contributor to the study, with $75,000 pledged. The other parties, besides Arlington, are slated to contribute between $35,000 and $5,000.
County staff said that an aerial gondola system running above the Potomac could draw more visitors to Rosslyn and could help ease vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the congested Key Bridge. Georgetown is the largest employment center in the District without a Metro system — more than 22,000 people work there, including 10,000 at the university — and the walk from the Rosslyn Metro station across the bridge is about a kilometer, a chilly and windy 0.6 miles in the winter.
“A more efficient and reliable transit connection between Rosslyn and Georgetown would benefit both communities socially and economically,” county staff wrote.
The county’s Transportation Commission voted 6-3-2 in favor of the study. Opponents worried that “the primary purpose of a gondola would be for tourism rather than for transport.”
“The Commission is of multiple minds on this proposal,” wrote Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt in a letter to County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “There is a fear that the gondola proposal does not solve a real transportation need, and many commissioners fear that even contributing to a study will provide substantive fodder for transit-naysayers.”
The gondola study is expected to take seven months to complete and could be complete by October 2016.
Rendering via Georgetown BID