The Co-op’s Lower Level Offers a Variety of Ways to Learn and Relax
By Kate Tell and Keith Allison
The LaGuardia Co-op is NYU IT’s flagship Student Technology Center, providing computer workstations, collaboration space, and other resources. But it’s not all term papers, coding, and design. In the Co-op’s lower level, you’ll find a gaming lounge, VR console, and other ways to help you temporarily take your mind off your coursework — unless, that is, your coursework involves gaming and VR. In which case, the Co-op still has you covered.
VR at the Co-op
Virtual and augmented realities (VR and AR) have been making rapid progress down the long road from science fiction to rudimentary novelty to practical usability. At pace with the progression of the technology is the investigation of how it can be used effectively in academia. In recent years, a number of resources have been made available to NYU students, faculty, and researchers wanting to experience the cutting edge of VR and AR and explore how it might augment the teaching and learning process — even if that means just providing a fun way to immerse oneself and blow off a little steam. In support of this, the LaGuardia Co-op has been steadily adding VR resources both for coursework and for entertainment.
The Co-op currently has a station dedicated to VR research and gaming equipped with two of the most popular technologies: the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The station, located in the Co-op’s lower level, features access to games on Steam as well as games specifically for the Oculus. Some of the most popular games include Beat Saber, Super Hot, Fallout 4, The Lab, Rick and Morty, Budget Cuts, and Fruit Ninja.
In addition to the games, the VR station is available to student developers, including those working on digital art and game design assignments. This is still an emerging area of design and study, so students using the VR space as an artistic tool are at the forefront of a new medium for creative expression. In addition, some courses at NYU — Professor Cynthia Allen’s Future Reality: Trends and Impact of New Media course, for example — are exploring ways in which VR at the Co-op can be integrated into the teaching and learning experience.
Whether you’ve never used VR before or are a professional, any student can come to the LaGuardia Co-op to check it out; Student Technology Assistants (STAs) are happy to answer any question you have. To reserve time at the VR station, visit the LaGuardia Co-op website and select “Book now.” Reservations can be made in advance, and the Co-op also accepts walk-in reservations if the station is free. Visit the front desk, say you want to use the VR station, and an STA will check availability. If it’s free, fill out a Walk-In Reservation Form at the desk, and you’re good to go.
Gaming at the Co-op
In addition to the immersive experiences available via VR, the Co-op boasts a number of traditional gaming consoles, including a Wii U, Xbox One, and a Playstation 4, all connected to an 80-inch LED screen and two wall projectors. Video games are checked out on a first come, first served basis. Come to the Co-op and ask to use a specific console (Wii U, Xbox, etc.); if no one else is using it, an STA will set it up in the Collaboration Space on the lower level. A full catalog of games is available at the Co-op. Some of the current most popular games are Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, NBA 2K, FIFA, and Mario Party. The game catalog will be expanding during the late fall 2018 semester.
The Co-op also regularly hosts gaming events in the Collaboration Space. Some recent events have included: the Freeplay Fiesta, which is an opportunity to play games, eat food, and meet new people; the annual Halloween Gaming Event, during which the Co-op also unveils new games that are being added to its catalog; and regular gaming workshops (for example, “How to Win at Mario Kart”).
If games are your area of study as well as a hobby, the Co-op also has game development workstations on the first floor that can be reserved in advance or upon your arrival, if available. Applications on these workstations include Unity, Unreal Engine, Meshmixer, Rhino (5), Solidworks (2015), ZBrush, and Steam. 3D modeling/printing software and information can also be found just two doors down at the LaGuardia Studio.
The Co-op and Beyond
The LaGuardia Co-op is set up to cater to the technology needs of all NYU students, even if those needs are just fun and a bit of relaxation. As the role of games and VR as entertainment and as tools in teaching and learning expands, additional game and VR resources will continue to open in and around the Washington Square Campus and the MetroTech Center in Brooklyn. These resources include the Co-op and nearby LaGuardia Studio, the recently-announced RLab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Mobile Augmented Reality Lab, the NYU Game Center, and more.
So, if you see someone in the lower level of the Co-op wearing a headset and dancing around, don’t worry. They’re just there to slice virtual fruit.