CyberCafes, which offered internet connection, were once roughly in fashion. At least in New York, the hype is over. People sit at home in front of their monitors and prefer to amuse themselves with all kinds of VR knick-knacks.
On the search for CyberCafes in New York one stumbles inevitably on the XS. It’s right on Times Square between the 41. and 42. and between Broadway and 7. Avenue. Almost all tourists walk past it when they head for the Empire State Building or just want to visit Times Square as an attraction, because the signs above the two entrances are huge and the spiral and the lettering Too much is not enough magically attracts you. A little smaller reads on the windows "CyberCafe", with a squiggle around the "Cafe". Another sign on the tower indicates that the grand opening will be on the 20th. Marz was. After a friendly greeting by the first employee, you find yourself in a hugely crude room filled with game machines, monitors, cars, motorcycles, water jets, a 3D Pacman and many other VR gadgets. Besides, you see crowds of people, but no PCs. You are on request on the second floor, which is accessible by two spiral staircases.
While it seems to be quite quiet upstairs, down here the bar is raging. It is Saturday evening, 9 pm. Almost every device has someone playing on it, and some, like the real-life car that a person can sit in and experience simulated, self-driven car racing even more realistically by jerking the car around, have people lining up to see it. The store’s other gross highlight is its equally gross flight simulator, which is "virtual revolution" promises. This ride rotates both horizontally and vertically. Two cyborgs find room in the cockpit. One steers, the other pushes on targets. The waiting passengers can see the pilots on one monitor, on another the view from the cockpit. The price is high: $7 per person for the seven-minute virtual flight. But the simulation is much more realistic than known flight simulators on CD-ROM.
Right next to the airplane there is a virtual snowboard (2 dollars), on which you can ride curvy and over jumps into the valley. Next to it is an alpine ski simulator with sticks. A few steps further on, you can sit on motorcycles and ride virtual races, jump over islands in James Bond-style aqua jets and go underwater with the "bomber" WaveRunner to rotate horizontally over hard water surfaces and to feel their resistance on their own body by means of light jerks. You fly on flying objects resembling bats through narrow cave canyons, while you step on pedals and have to shoot strange figures. Another original feature is the virtual paraglider, on which you lie on the mountainside and fly down to the valley.
But the baller simulations are really besieged, as for example the game Tokyo War, in which you drive a tank through downtown Tokyo and experience the slow forward crawl of the tank in a sensual way. The simple sliding simulations such as the "The New York" and the "The New York" are of course also not missing Gunblade, where you fire at enemies with two machine guns. You can choose whether downtown or uptown Manhattan should be the setting, or Times Square, where this CyberCafe is located. Thus, the fiction becomes many times more realistic, as the player weib, dab he is physically at Times Square. At Pyramid Pilot you slip under a data helmet and operate handles and fire buttons. It is suspended on a ball joint in such a way that you can move your body in all directions. Quickly you have spent 20 or 30 dollars, if you try a few games.
ou finally reach the second floor via a spiral staircase. Here, in addition to two virtual golf courses – the lawn is simulated via a screen, the swing with the clubs is real – there are numerous PCs positioned close to the balustrade. Only a few of the 20 monitors have people sitting at them. The amused public prefers to amuse itself with the VR equipment. The Internet computers provide a T1 line (1.56 MB per second), correspondingly good graphics cards, 24 MB RAM etc. The virtual world AlphaWorld becomes a genub, since there is practically no time delay in the movement of the avatars. An employee of XS (Skyline Multimedia Entertainment Inc.), which is responsible for the PCs of the CyberCafe company, is currently moving in AlphaWorld and are desperately trying to find someone who might talk to it.
It’s Saturday night, 10 p.m. local time (EST). At XS NewYork seems to have more going on than in AlphaWorld. After the usual introductory dialogue, her distant interlocutor suddenly comes to talk about her gender and makes slippery remarks. The employee tries to deal with it ironically, but notices the persistence of the efforts and says goodbye to this avatar. There are others. At another terminal a real customer sits and sends emails. In the middle of it, however, the connection breaks off when the paid time has expired. 12 dollars an hour.
The euphoria for the Internet world seems to have faded, because in the afternoon the picture is similar. While the people are stepping on their toes in the ground, the sophisticated screensavers are running upstairs. Even the usual car simulations with steering wheel only, which are a dime a dozen upstairs, are more attractive here. Maybe it will be better on another day or at another time, maybe it is because of the recent opening of the cafe.
At CyberCafe of the same company in SoHo, at the corner of Prince and Lafayette Street, the ten multimedia PCs, which also allow videoconferencing, are also unoccupied at six o’clock in the evening. The initial hype in August 1995 was pushed by the media. Today there is hardly anything left of the fascination. Still seems to be CyberCafe to carry, because the rents are high here in SoHo. The former competition in the nearby East Village has diminished. From the Internet cafe on St. Marks Place is now only the flag with a @ ubrig. The monitors gave way to bar tables, as they brought in more money.
The XS closes its doors at 2 a.m. on weekends and at midnight during the week. At 11 o`clock in the morning it already starts again. If the investment-friendly company strategy works out, the exclusive location can be maintained. It only remains to be seen whether the PCs will remain in place. Too much is not enough, is the motto.