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Virtual reality now part of Bills gameday experience

You won’t need an all-access pass to get a behind-the-scenes look before Bills games this season at New Era Field.

Fans attending Sunday’s home opener will be able to experience the sights and sounds of being inside the Bills locker room and walking through the tunnel onto the field via a virtual reality application created by two RIT graduates through the university’s MAGIC Center.

“The whole idea was to give you a view of different areas inside the standpoint from the perspective of a Bills player,” said Andrew Phelps, director of RIT’s MAGIC Center. “And there will be a couple more surprises on gameday.”

The VR masks will be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at four stations: two at the Fan Zone inside the ADPRO Training Center, and two at the new Billevard area off Abbott Road, near gates 3 and 5.

This is not the first use of VR in the NFL, but the app is believed to be the first that gives fans the experience of being in the locker room and running out of the tunnel at an NFL stadium, a Bills spokesman said.

“I’m not aware of any other ones,” Phelps said. “When we started, we went out and looked for something like it and couldn’t find anything.”

The MAGIC Center was commissioned by DPM Solutions to create a VR experience for Bills fans, Phelps said. Work on the project began in May and required several trips to One Bills Drive in order to capture the 360-degree views.

Zane Draper, a graduate from RIT’s game design and development program, and Anna Dining, a graduate from the motion picture science program, worked on the project under the director of MAGIC Center operations manager Brenda Schlageter.

“They were technically capable, but most importantly, consistently innovative in an area that is still very new, very early territory,” Schlageter said in a news release. “In addition, this project spanned individual disciplines and knowledge sets, and they were great collaborators.”

The student creators will be attending Sunday’s game to see fans interact with the app, Phelps said


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