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FEBRUARY 2020 THEWCPRESS.COM

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Letter

from the

Editor

Dan Mathers shares some personal insight into this month’s theme

I am a product of the digital age. I beat Crash Bandicoot on the first-generation PlayStation and Halo on the first-generation Xbox. I spent hours of elementary school across the street at my friend’s house futilely trying to beat Donkey Kong Country on Super Nintendo, and I learned to code my first web-

site in HTML at age 12. In my teens I’d help friends install MP3 and iPod compatible receivers in their car stereos. I became an early adopter of music streaming services like Grooveshark, and later Spotify, after realizing that using Napster, Kazaa and Limewire to illegally download music meant I was in a constant battle to keep my computer clean from all the accompanying viruses. Through college I used the power of PhotoShop and a digital scanner for... less than reputable purposes. These days I live in a smart home, where my thermostat, lights, door locks, security alarms and even my vacuum are controlled through a central, voice-activated hub. Thanks to some help from Kevin Mash and West Chester Computer Doctors, I’ve got a custom-built media machine that lets me control my living room TV as though it were a giant 4k computer monitor. But I’m also likely the last generation to remember what the world was like before these life-altering technologies became the norm. I grew up in an era where, if you wanted to talk to your elementary school crush, you had to call her parents’ house and politely ask to speak with her (or have a friend inelegantly handle that interaction for you if you were too nervous to manage it yourself). My brothers, 16 years my juniors, have never had to experience this level of dating-related discomfort; they’ve had smart iPhones since fifth grade. In many ways, I toe the line between the wholly digital generations that came after me, and the entirely analog generations that came before. It’s my opinion that those of us bridging this gap serve as guides to others on either side. Despite the fact that my little brothers are both living at home, my mother often still turns to me for IT support. My brothers, she says, will simply snatch her device away, fix the problem and hand it back without thinking about what they’re doing — the solutions are as natural to them as breathing. So, when she wants someone who can see where the pitfalls might be and explain the issues that aren’t so obvious to her, I get a call. This magazine features a lot of people in that same position, folks who understand the digital divide and are designing for the future with it in mind. From building next-generation arcades to educating the next generation of media mavericks, West Chester is building for the digital age but doing so in a way that instills the ideals we’ve always valued. It’s my hope that, with these sort of folks shaping our world — those who’ve learned from the past and glimpsed the future — we can hope for a better and more inclusive tomorrow. —dan@thewcpress.com

The

“The pace at which people are taking to digital technology defies our stereotypes of age, education, language and income.” –Narendra Modi

Press PUBLISHER Dan Mathers dan@thewcpress.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Nick Vecchio nick@thewcpress.com MANAGING EDITOR Kate Chadwick kchadwick@thewcpress.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Nazarena Luzzi Castro nazarenaluzzi.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Michael Lynch mlynch@thewcpress.com STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Erik Weber @westchesterviews CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Amy Tucker amytuckerphotography.com

COLUMNISTS Becca Boyd bboyd@thewcpress.com Jamie Jones jjones@thewcpress.com Andrea Mason amason@thewcpress.com DJ Romeo romeo@thewcpress.com Rotary Club of West Chester rotary@thewcpress.com Published By... Mathers Productions 24 W Market St, Ste 4 West Chester, PA 19382 mathersproductions.com 610-344-3463 The WC Press is a monthly magazine distributed free of charge to more than 250 businesses. For a free digital subscription, visit thewcpress.com. For more information about specific distribution locations, visit thewcpress.com/distribution.

Worth

Noting

Our no-nonsense table of contents

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#THEWCPRESS Our favorite social media posts from fans are getting printed

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CAN’T-MISS FEBRUARY EVENTS Our guide to everthing happening this month

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LEVEL UP LEVEL13 Gaming Center brings eSports to West Chester

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OWNERS OF THE MONTH Keith Kenna and Mark Ferrari are cybersecurity experts

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MAKING THE CUT WCU’s paving the way through an evolving digital landscape

41

SPECIAL EFFECTS A visit to Neverland Virtual Reality

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PHOTO HUNT Spot the five differences and win a Barnaby’s gift card

FEBRUARY 2020 THEWCPRESS.COM

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@thewcpress #thewcpress Like and follow us on social media, then tag us in your posts for a chance get your work published here. Our favorite image each month (ď‚Ť) will earn its photographer a gift card to @barnabyswestchester

@chef_scrappy

@Westbrook_Design

@kalyclothing

ď‚Ť

@eboughter24

@cchaggartyandco

@cirajsraab

@gemelligelato

@legiontcwestchester

@djromeo24

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Can’t-Miss February Events Throughout February Six Nations Rugby Championship Viewing Party

February means only one thing for rugby fans: the imminent arrival of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations. Arguably the best rugby tournament on the calendar, it’s can’t-miss sports and a great excuse to have a good time. Join Kildare’s for all the live action on their projector screen and in full surround sound. The tournament kicks off on 2/1 at 9am with Wales vs Italy, followed by Ireland vs Scotland at 11:45am. Check your calendar for upcoming matches which will all be broadcast at Kildare’s. Kildare’s Irish Pub 18 W Gay St | 610.431.0770 Kildarespubwc.com

2/1 14th Annual Progressive Dinner

Get out of the winter doldrums and come party with your friends and neighbors. This fun, friendly three-course dinner begins at 6pm and takes place at six neighborhood homes in the N. Walnut Street area, and everyone gets together at the last stop for dessert, with the party ending around 10pm. The cost is $75 for members and $80 for guests and non-members, and tickets can be purchased through the organizations website. Friends of Marshall Square Park marshallsquarepark.org

2/2 Super Bowl Sunday Kegs & Eggs

Kick off the Big Game with a rocking tailgate at Levante Brewing at 11am. The Phyllodelphia food truck — known for their Greek and Mediterranean inspired menu — will be serving up brunch. Plus, they’ll also have pre-packaged dips/ spreads/hummus for take-out, so you can serve up a spread wherever you want when the Chiefs take on the Niners. Levante Brewing Co 208 Carter Dr, Ste 2 | 484.999.8761 Levantebrewing.com

2/7 Shades of Gray Artists’ Reception

The Art Trust is a non-profit volunteer-based organization which sup-

ports and cultivates the exploration of a contemporary aesthetic for the benefit of artists and the community and presents Shades of Gray, a showcase by Leah Wells, Roderick Hidalgo and Dennis Beach that takes the erotic fluidity of gray to new levels. The exhibit runs from 1/15 to 2/28, but come out from 5-8:30pm on the first Friday in February to enjoy a glass of wine and a discussion. The Art Trust @ Meridian Bank 16 W Market St | 484.301.2784 thearttrust.org

2/8 Ryan P. McCall Foundation Fundraiser

The Ryan P. McCall Foundation was established in honor of its namesake after he lost his life in a heinous crime. The organization carries on his values, hosting an annual fundraiser at Barnaby’s and a race, Ryan’s Run, later in the year. Portions of this year’s proceeds will go directly to Cuddle My Kids which supports families and children affected by cancer. The $35 ticket for the event can be purchased through the organizations website and includes a buffet dinner with beer, wine and well drinks, and raffle tickets will be available for purchase. The party kicks off at 7pm. Barnaby’s of West Chester 15 S High St Ryan P. McCall Foundation Ryanpmccall.com

2/9 The True Story of Cinderella

Opera Tuttie presents an operatic romp through this slightly fractured fairy tale! Performed annually to an almost cult following at Westminster Choir College, The True Story of Cinderella is a comic, oratorio-style, mini opera. The composer, the late Warren Martin, was a beloved professor at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. The cast is comprised of 12 singers, one narrator and a pianist. The show starts at 3pm and runs 60 minutes. Tickets are $20 for students, $25 for adults. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787 uptownwestchester.com

Family-Friendly Three-Course Italian Cooking Class

Looking for fun events to do as a family? Mangia Famiglia has you covered. You and your child (ages 10 and up), will learn how to make a three-course Italian meal, including an appetizer, homemade pasta from scratch and a fun Italian dessert! Tickets run $140 for teams of one adult and one child. They can be purchased on Mangia Famiglia’s website. The course runs from 3-5:30pm Mangia Famiglia Artisan Exchange 208 Carter Dr, Ste 13B 610.719.0282 Mangiafamiglia.com

2/14 Murder Mystery Masquerade Party You are cordially invited to attend a masquerade party… to die for. A thrilling night of murder and mystery, where you must catch the killer, or die trying. Take a step back into the Victorian era for a night filled with secrets, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and murder. The event is for adults 21+, and space is limited, so please reserve your space in advance through the library’s website. The event starts at 6:30pm. West Chester Public Library 415 N Church St | 610.696.1721 Wcpubliclibrary.org

2/15 International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella

Come out to this premiere tournament dedicated to showcasing the art of student a cappella singing and providing top-notch a cappella groups with valuable feedback from highly qualified judges. Young vocalists have the opportunity to share their talent with an international audience, develop relationships with each other, and cultivate the art of a cappella singing as well as a lifelong love of music. The top two placing groups at this event will advance to the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal. Tickets are $20 for students and $25 for general

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admission and can be bought through Varsity Vocals’ website. The show starts at 7pm. Emily K Asplundh Concert Hall 700 S High St Varsity Vocals Varsityvocals.com

Live at the Fillmore

Live at The Fillmore has become the most popular and best-known tribute to the original Allman Brothers Band. Great attention is paid to recreating the music with an unparalleled degree of authenticity. The band has been chosen as featured performer on next year’s Time Life Southern Rock Cruise and received rave reviews for their Spring 2017 performance on national TV as part of Axs TV’s World’s Greatest Tribute Bands. Their West Chester show begins at 8pm and tickets start at $35, available in advance online. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787 Uptownwestchester.com

2/18 Ray Didingers Eagles 2019 Season: An Insider’s Perspective

Ray Didinger won six Emmy Awards as a producer and writer with NFL Films. He is the author of 12 books on sports, including three recent bestsellers. A 1968 graduate of Temple University, and a member of Temple’s School of Communications Hall of Fame, Didinger wrote for the Philadelphia Bulletin and Philadelphia Daily News for more than 30 years. Didinger was named Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year five times by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. In 1995, he won the Dick McCann Award for long and distinguished coverage of pro football, and his name was added to the writers’ honor roll in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. His talk starts at 6:30pm and will run $30 per ticket. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787 Uptownwestchester.com

2/22 Sounds of the Caribbean

Take the chill off with a concert of Afro-Caribbean music and steel drums! Enjoy the West Chester University Wells School of Music Latin Jazz

Ensemble and Steel Pan Band, featuring percussionist Juan Alamo, vocalist Cristina Alamo, and steel pan artist Kristian Paradis. The show starts at 7:30pm and runs for about 90 minutes. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased online in advance or at the door. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610.356.2787 Uptownwestchester.com

2/23 Panel Discussion and Book Signing

Brian Lockman, host of PCN’s PA Books, will moderate a panel discussion featuring Dr. Robert Kodosky, author of the new book, Tuskegee in Philadelphia: Rising to the Challenge (from Arcadia Publishing), and members of the Philadelphia Tuskegee Airmen. Following the discussion, Dr. Kodosky and the Tuskegee Airmen will sign copies of the book, which will be available for purchase. Admission is $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the event (includes museum admission), and the event runs from 2-4pm. American Helicopter Museum 1220 American Boulevard | 610.436.9600 Americanhelicopter.museum

2/27 Wild & Scenic Film Festival

What started 13 years ago as an evening of shorts has become a much-anticipated, two-night production at Chester County Historical Society featuring some of the favorite films of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the United States, with proceeds equally benefiting The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County and Stroud Water Research Center. Highlights always include delicious local food and drink. You can come for just one of the evenings ($35), or both ($55) — different films are shown each night. Tickets are available through host Trail Creek Outfitters’ website. Thursday’s showing is at 2pm, Friday at 5pm. Chester County Historical Society 225 N High St Trail Creek Outfitters 610.558.4006 Trailcreekoutfitters.com

2/27 - 3/1 The Visit

The West Chester University’s Department of Theatre and Dance presents the story of a wealthy woman who returns to her debt-ridden hometown and offers a sum greater than they have ever imagined to help. But there is a condition: she wants the life of a villager who years ago had caused her to be expelled from the town in disgrace. Ringing denial of this ludicrous demand is followed by the gradual corruption of everyone in town. What does the town decide? Showings are at 7:30pm every day, with additional matinee shows at 2pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online in advance. E.O. Bull Center 2 E Rosedale Ave wcupatix.com

2/28 Faunbrook February Open House

Join Faunbrook for their monthly open house from 1–3pm. Take a tour, enjoy some tasty treats provided by one of their preferred caterers, and learn more about how Faunbrook is the perfect place to host your wedding, shower or private event. Faunbrook Bed & Breakfast 699 Roedale Ave | 610.436.5788 faunbrook.com

2/29 Beer and Girl Scout Cookie Pairing

In celebration of National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend, Iron Hill is teaming up with the Girl Scouts for a one-of-akind sampler featuring six Iron Hill beers and six Girl Scout Cookies, available from noon to 5pm. Featured Pairings: Caramel deLites paired with O'Sullivan Stout with toasted Coconut & Cocoa nibs; Trefoils paired with Czech Pils; Do Si Dos paired with Czech Pils with peanuts and Hawaiian bread roll; Tagalongs paired with Triple Chocolate Pastry Stout; Lemonades paired with Lemon Witberry; and Thin Mints paired with Russian Imperial Stout. Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant 3 W Gay St | 610.738.9600 ironhillbrewery.com

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Market Forecast

Your planetary predications with a particularly local twist Aries (3/21-4/19) Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want professionally, ambitious ram (as if). You’re busy, but don’t neglect loved ones on your way to world domination. Schedule weekly dinner dates. Barnaby’s works for the spouse or the whole fam. Taurus (4/20-5/20) Love issues dominate this month, sweet bull — but not in a good way: there’s turbulence if you’re coupled, chaos if not. Take deep breaths and swap out happy hours for alone time at Gryphon Café with tea and a book. Gemini (5/21-6/20) Mercury retrograde always hits you twins hard, and there’s one looming on the 17th. Expect delays and communication issues, and try to compromise (try). Combat stress and burn nervous energy with exercise. ACAC will kick you into gear. Cancer (6/21-7/22) Ka-ching, darling crab — finances are robust this month, important to you not because “money” but because “security.” Thumbs up in love, too. Cuddle up if attached, put yourself out there if not. Invest in a new ‘do at La Difference and slay. Leo (7/23-8/22) This month will be challenging, majestic beast. You’re vulnerable to illness and accidents. Curb that spending, too. Focus on an intellectual pursuit — hit Baldwin’s Book Barn for inspiration. Single? The love you seek is already in your orbit. Virgo (8/23-9/22) The stars give you a burst of energy in the first half of February, dear Virgo. You love helping others, so use that Virgo vigor to fling yourself into a cause. Brandywine Valley SPCA is always in need of volunteers. Just saying. Libra (9/23-10/22) All is harmonious on the home and health fronts, freeing you to focus on professional growth. Expand those networks, both work and social. Check greaterwestchester.com for upcoming events and get yourself—and your resume—circulating. Scorpio (10/23-11/22) You’ve been working hard and have the money to show for it, but at what cost, Scorpio? Dial back the job this month and address emotional health. A consultation at WC Therapy Group is a good start — but the first move is yours, dear. Sagittarius (11/23-12/21) Mars is in your sign, archer friend, and that boost will have you seizing all the days. Resist the urge to overextend yourself, or there will be some consequences. Be proactive — maybe go and get your eyes checked at Chester County Eye Care. Capricorn (12/22-1/19) Feel your feelings this month, steadfast goat, and then communicate them. You’re industrious and autonomous, but words go a long way with loved ones. Reserve a table at Spence Café — not on Valentine’s Day — and shut your phone off. Aquarius (1/20-2/18) Go with the flow professionally, or work will kick your butt, Aquarius. Your social/love lives are jamming. Some connections may not survive retrograde, but there might be a fun fling. Keep your eyes peeled, even while grabbing a pastry at La Baguette. Pisces (2/19-3/20) Precious Pisces, you need a break. You give so much, but you must put on your own air mask before helping others. The third week of February will be particularly stressful. So on Day One of the fourth, please call Whirlaway Travel and schedule a vacation.

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NOW ING LL O R 1 EN 0 - 2 r! 2 r a fo ol ye o h c s


I

n the not-so-distant past, being a video gamer wasn’t necessarily considered a social plus. Whether society thought of gamers as nerdy adults a la The X Files, anti-social youth tucked away in their bedrooms, or a combination of the two, the consensus seemed to be that playing video games was at best a waste of time, and at worst, detrimental to your health. Fortunately, we’ve arrived in 2020, where our concepts of good, bad, and worthy have evolved right along with our palates (and cravings for avocado toast). Video gaming is finally being acknowledged as the supremely cool and worthwhile activity it is. And nowhere is that clearer than at Level13 Gaming Center here in the borough. “We opened our doors, officially, on December 19, 2018,” says Kevin Mash, owner and operator of Level13, an eSports gaming center. “Unofficially, we opened for the first players on December 7, 2018, when my oldest daughter had her 11th birthday here with nine of her friends.” Mash grew up locally and now lives just six blocks from Level13 with his wife and

four kids. “I only leave the borough when I have to,” he says. While you can often spot him having coffee or breakfast with other local business people at Market Street Grill, Mash also keeps busy as owner of both West Chester Computer Doctors and Vector IT Group, two businesses that were instrumental in launching this newest endeavor. “The move into high-end gaming was only possible because I have expertise in the hardware, software, and network systems required for this type of business,” says Mash. “This would have been an impossible and unaffordable venture if I needed to completely outsource that part of the business.” Prior to becoming Level13, the space at 21 S High Street had been a law office, an accounting firm, an insurance agency, and a private investment company, among other enterprises. When Mash took over the lease, he was faced with several major structural changes, including the installation of new electric service (each gaming rig can pull up to 4.5 amps at peak usage);

new floors, walls and ceilings; a new layout that involved removing several existing walls; new fixtures, and over 40 custom computer builds. “The time between inception of this idea and our opening day was only about five months — pretty breakneck speed considering we had to find, design, and rehab our space, build 40+ high-end computers, and hire staff,” says Mash. While it was a tremendous effort, Mash had recognized and filled a gap in the community. “My wife and I live and play in West Chester. The restaurants, bars and dessert businesses in town are great, but there wasn’t much to do for younger people, who we would see walking around town all the time and loitering on the old courthouse steps,” says Mash. “Given the rise of video gaming, the explosion of eSports, and my own personal love of video games (35 years of gaming to date) we started thinking that an arcade would be a hit in town. After some business research and some analytics, we decided that a 40+ system space would make the most sense.”

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What is eSports? The gaming center itself is just what it sounds like: a center for playing video games. Instead of upright arcade games, however, it’s all desktop computer gaming. “Level13 is a social eSports gaming center. We offer high-end computers and peripherals in a local area network so gamers can play their favorite games at the highest speeds and settings with their friends all in the same room,” says Mash. Lest you think video games are best played solo, think again. Level13 offers the best in sophistication and technology, while also encouraging sportsmanship. And there’s a level of excitement here akin to an eighties arcade, with kids watching each other play and offering up high fives. “For a gamer, gaming at home is a great deal of fun,” says Mash. “There is, however, no real comparison between playing at home by yourself and playing with a group of friends at Level13. The excitement and social engagement gamers get here makes a typically antisocial activity a great social event — they get enthused and juiced.”

It can even replace or supplant traditional team activities. “Video gaming in a social setting provides many of the same benefits as traditional sports: teamwork, sportsmanship, communication, and strategic thinking,” says Mash. “We have lots of kids that never got into traditional sports; eSports gives them access to team experiences even if they can’t throw a ball at 80 miles per hour or shoot a threepointer.”

Here's How It Works With rows of state-of-the-art computers, Level13 eSports Gaming Center resembles a top-notch school computer classroom. For those of us who are too old to have had a school computer room, picture something like NASA’s mission control without the big visuals of the universe. “Currently we have enough computers, consoles and VR systems to allow 58 gamers to play at the same time,” says Mash. “We are adding a few more machines each month and hope to add a private team room for up to six additional

gamers to have their own space for practices and competitions.” With access to over 160 games and new titles added regularly, gamers can expect cutting-edge visuals and experiences, as well as assistance from a dedicated coaching staff. “As coaches, our staff can help all levels of gamers to improve their skills by discussing strategy and technique. And in game settings we can help hone a gamer’s play, and get them to vault on top of the competition,” says Mash. And that’s because Level13 walks the walk. “Our staffers are game enthusiasts. By that I mean they love gaming. Ask them questions about pretty much any game, and they’ll know what you’re talking about. I’m a one-trick pony, but my staffers all have hundreds — if not thousands — of hours in hundreds and hundreds of games. It’s not just their job, it’s their passion.” Additionally, coaches help facilitate getting into games, loading features, and identifying learning points. “They quickly pick up on kids that are good but could

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be better,” says Mash. “On breaks, the coaches can help them with tweaking things or even just holding the mouse differently, and they move to the next level.” Even if Level13 is empty — an unlikely occurrence due to its popularity — the venue is still a worthwhile playing opportunity. “Our center is connected to the internet via a fiber optic gigabit line. Anyone playing at Level13 can play with gamers in other centers or at home,” says Mash. “We also host gaming tournaments, where we connect gamers from multiple centers like ours in an eSport title.” The price tag on social gaming isn’t bad, either. There are a few different pricing options at Level13, all of which seem pretty reasonable: $10 for one hour; $25 for three hours; $100 for thirteen hours; and day passes for $33. To utilize the virtual reality experience, the rate is $10 for twenty minutes, and $30 for an hour. “Most gamers will play two hours straight without a problem,” says Mash. “Some of our hardcore gamers can play from open (10am) until close (10pm) no problem.”

The Appeal to Parents

take you to Level13.’ It works every time!”

While gamers of any age are welcome at Level13 eSports Gaming Center, it’s particularly popular with young teens, with 9-to-11-year-olds booking the most parties. It’s not hard to see why.

Rather than plopping your child in front of a screen and relinquishing all control, parents can take comfort in knowing that they’re still in charge. “The only restrictions we place on gaming is what parents say is okay. We resist the youngsters’ requests to play violent games and have dozens of nonviolent games to choose from,” says Mash. “Ultimately, however, if mom or dad says it’s okay, it’s game on.”

“First, the price. Paying by the hour is always better than buying your own highend computer, paying for games, and then keeping your system maintained and running optimally. Anytime a new game comes out, you may need to shell out $59 to play,” says Mash. “At Level13, you pay for time, and that’s it.” Another factor may not occur to someone who doesn’t live with a gamer. “Second, the noise — how loud gamers can be when playing at home. Get that out of your house and let us handle the noise,” says Mash. “Third, the control. Gaming at home can be a veritable black hole. Kids disappear into their room or the basement for hours on end. By gaming at Level13, you can completely control how much game time they’re getting. We have a lot of parents who use Level13 as an incentive: ‘Clean your room, do your chores, and we’ll

And while drop-off does exist for kids ages eight and older — perfect for heading right next door to Barnaby’s for dinner and drinks while your kids are entertained and engaged — there’s also a space for you if you choose to stay. “We have a lounge in the front with a TV, and we allow BYOB for both parents and 21-and-older gamers alike,” says Mash.

Video Gaming & College For parents who still aren’t sold on video gaming — in a social setting or not — Mash has some surprising news. “There are actually over 300 universities and colleges in the U.S. that now offer eSports

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scholarships, and that number is growing every month,” says Mash. That’s right… college scholarships... for playing video games. “There are a handful of gaming titles that can get scholarships,” says Mash. “This time last year, there were about 100 schools offering eSports scholarships, now it’s triple that.” In fact, just like any other sport that can earn scholarships, there are eSports scouts, keeping their eyes peeled for talented players. This opens up a whole world to kids who aren’t necessarily athletically or academically inclined, but who have unbeatable hand-eye coordination. At Level13 and other video gaming centers like it, they run specific software products to track logistics and metrics, identifying players’ GYO scores. According to their website, GYO is “an eSports and gaming sabermetrics platform that seeks to discover gaming talent early and often through advanced statistics processing.” And with a good GYO score, players may receive scholarship offers from recruiters.

“When the system notices some of our customers are playing really well, they will contact us, and that conversation leads to a scholarship,” says Mash. “One kid who played a specific game here had an opportunity for a scholarship from Kent State University.” And while that particular student was already a graduate, yours may not be.

What's Next While Level13 is predominantly a social gaming center, it serves a few other functions — for one, as a sales avenue. “We don’t sell the games, but we can sell some of the gaming equipment, the keyboard, the mouse,” says Mash. “Every so often someone will want the whole system, and we can sell them that.” Mash has also offered one “public build” event to date, to accommodate gamers who want to build their own computers but lack the confidence or expertise to do it at home. “Putting a computer together isn’t rocket science — it’s like the Legos of electricity,” says Mash.

His biggest goal for Level13, however, is to grow it to include several video gaming leagues. “We have a small league for the game Rocket League and are actively working on building larger leagues tied to local schools, community centers, churches, and other large groups,” says Mash. “For me, personally, our goal is to have leagues forming with all of the local groups — the YMCAs, local churches, soccer leagues. We’re engaging with these groups to schedule competitions between these players. The tournaments, practices — it’s almost like an organized sporting event.” And to that end, “In a perfect world, there would be three or four Level13s in the area, and we’d be able to have cross-location tournaments, where we can have 90 players at the same time.” For now, though, Level13 is a world of its own.

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Design Dilemmas Andrea Mason of Andrea Mason Design is a professional interior designer who wants to help you upgrade your space

The 2020 interior design world is shifting in a fun way. While you will still be seeing a lot of neutral color palettes, white walls, mixed metals, and natural elements like seagrass, wicker, and rattan, you will also be seeing more color, more vintage pieces, and dare I say it? Less shiplap and subway tile. Here is my roundup of the interior design trends you will be seeing more of this year. Permanent Pieces: More and more people are trading out their temporary particle board furniture for something with longevity. No longer is the buying process about choosing something in haste or settling on an item you don’t love. The process of selecting things that have meaning to you is in, even if it happens slowly. A benefit to choosing something timeless, well made, and which will grow with you through the years is that you are being more sustainable. IKEA and similar companies definitely have their place in life, but what’s coming into style is the process of selecting a piece that is made to last. Grandmillennial Style This personality-packed style is for someone who appreciates the past while embracing fresh touches. Think Grandma’s house with florals, pleated lamp shades, needlework pillows, and chesterfield sofas, but with updated fabrics and colors that bring it to 2020. It’s a look that is layered and collected, with items that makes a person ask about the back story. Black and White: High contrast black and white is back with a vengeance. I repeat: do not pull up your old black-and-white check vinyl flooring! This contrasting look can be implemented in a multitude of ways, including a white sofa with black frame, black end table with white detailing, black walls with white furniture, white kitchen cabinets and a black island, the options are endless. A few eye-catching black and white wallpapers and fabric patterns have been popping up, too, like plaid and houndstooth. Colorful Built-Ins: One of my favorite trends right now is ditching the all-white cabinets. Painting your cabinets won’t break the bank and is a huge statement maker in a room that is lacking in color. Trending colors right now are deep greens and blues, but you should also think about drawing inspiration and tying in an existing color from the room like a piece of art, rug, or furniture piece. You can even go bold by adding a lacquer finish. Canopy Beds: Your first thought of a canopy or four poster bed is formal, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a ton of styles, from mid-century modern to contemporary, and they’re meant for both children and adults. Canopies come in endless wood finishes, fabrics, and leathers, making them a versatile piece of furniture. Because of the height they are optimal in a bedroom that has higher ceilings. So make 2020 the year you try a new trend; I have a feeling these will be sticking around. –amason@thewcpress.com

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Owners

of the Month

Borough resident Keith Kenna and partner Mark Ferrari bring cybersecurity solutions to WC.

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hat’s your local connection? Mark: My daughter is at WCU, Keith is an alum, and when Keith and I were executives with another information security company we came here to attract talent. The result was great, so when we broke out, we wanted to stay in the borough. Keith: My wife Gabrielle also works in town at Limoncello, and we live in the borough. Do you find West Chester is a draw? Keith: When we’re looking to build business relationships our preference is to always have them come to us. There are two responses when we suggest a client come to West Chester: either they’re excited to come to town, or they’ve never heard of it. If they’d never heard of it, after the meeting their immediate conclusion is, “No wonder your office is here.” What’s your background? Keith: I started my career in the organ donation field working for the Gift of Life Donor Program in Philly. From there I got into project management at Siemens HS. At the time the healthcare industry was seeing some of the first major security breaches. Very few people in the field had healthcare

PHOTO Erik Weber INTERVIEW Dan Mathers security experience, so once I had worked on one or two projects involving security, I quickly became a go-to resource. Mark: After graduating from Villanova, I went into the Air Force where I commanded a minuteman nuclear missile crew. That experience serves me to this day — there’s no better example of an overlapping system of security controls. From there I went into healthcare IT, working for companies such as Shared Medical Systems, Main Line Health, Siemens, ultimately running a cybersecurity practice. Why’d you branch out? Mark: Healthcare data is more valuable, in a criminal sense, than financial data. Coupled with the healthcare industry embracing security relatively late makes for a lucrative target for malicious actors. We recognized the demand and the opportunity. What made you sure you’d be good partners? Keith: We met 15 years ago when volunteering at Uwchlan Ambulance Corps as EMTs and at the Glen Moore Fire Co as firefighters. At our “day jobs” I was working in a clinical capacity, and Mark was in a technical role. We knew how to work together from our volunteer expe-

rience, and when we started together at Siemens it was a great fit — we’ve worked together ever since. What are your services? Keith: There are two primary services we offer: security program development and security assessments. We’ve helped organizations like tech startups get their program up and running and performed enterprise-wide risk assessments for hospitals. If they’re serious, they want experienced professionals who know healthcare and security. Have any free advice? Mark: Choose a framework and stick to it. Two incorrect assumptions are often made: 1. That security controls are inherently expensive, and 2. They require software purchases. There are numerous frameworks to use in building a security program: ISO 27001, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, and the HITRUST CSF are great examples. Keith: It’s not a matter of “if” there will be a security incident, hack, or data breach — it’s a matter of “when.” If you have a program, great, but assume the worst and ask if you’re prepared to recover with minimal disruption to the business. That advice holds true regardless of your industry.

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W C U ’s D ig it a l M e d ia C e n t e r a n d t h e n e w M e d ia a n d C u lt u r e m a jo r p av e the w ay thro ug h a n e v o lv ing d ig ita l la nd s c a p e story Jesse Piersol FEBRUARY 2020 THEWCPRESS.COM

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S tu d e nt s p ra c t ic in g v id e o p ro d u c t io n

F

rom Facebook marketing videos to cooking blogs to news segments and even that underlit video of the family vacation taken on a phone, digital content is inescapable. Smartphones and myriad low-cost or free apps make it possible for anyone to be a creator, while advancements in professional-quality digital tools and services have had a similar impact on the creative industry itself. We took a look behind the scenes at two West Chester University entities aiming to make the digital world a better place.

The Digital Media Center (DMC) In its headquarters in the basement of Brandywine Hall is the Digital Media Center (DMC), which provides event videography, equipment loans, video editing, and training services to students, staff, faculty, and organizations. A full-service TV studio and control booth support courses in broadcasting and video production as well as events and student programming. Eleanor Walton took the helm as DMC Coordinator in 2006 after spending 14

years in TV production, and another 17 as a technical director and producer at QVC. She quickly set her sights on bringing the studio into the future. “When I got here, they were still using tape. My goal was to upgrade to HD and then go completely tapeless,” she recalls.

In 2 0 11, ta p e w a s e ra d ic ate d , s tre a m lin in g th e p ro d u c t io n p ro c e s s a n d m a k in g w o r k f lo w e a s ie r.

In the time between moving from tape to digital, other projects on campus sprang up, including a new student-run campus news program called WCU Weekly (see our sidebar on the next page). “People would bring their own cameras into the studio to use and we’d end up with all these different formats, like VHS or MiniDV,” remembers Joe Watts, General Technician at the DMC.

green cloth hanging in the studio to a curved, seamless plastic version for higher quality and more versatility. It is essential for segments such as the Quad Weather Minute, a daily weather update which is broadcast all over campus, with different students serving as on-air talent each day.

In 2011, tape was eradicated, streamlining the production process and making workflow easier. “We immediately saw that we got more use out of the studio,” Walton says. Fast forward to today, when everyone uses the teleprompter and the cameras in the studio to record their projects directly to file. Another upgrade is the green screen. Five years ago, they moved from a basic

The president’s “welcome back” video from 2017 provides an example of the complexity that goes into planning and executing a typical DMC project. “We met with the president’s speechwriter to come up with key points, the script, and overall structure, and then we developed the content accordingly, incorporating content from all the leaders who are presenting,” Watts explains. Rehearsals, along with lighting and sound equipment preparations, are components key to professional quality.

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During the hour-long address, the president read from a teleprompter, and another presenter included a live, on-screen survey using a tool called Qualtrics. PowerPoint slides were also interspersed. The DMC crew ran a two-camera setup that recorded the presentation while also livestreaming it to the Philadelphia campus and other satellite locations. In addition to technical superiority, digital formats are also more environmentally friendly — using virtual rather than physical space to store content — an imperative central to the university’s sustainability initiative. But even digital formats have space issues. Watts identifies asset management as an ongoing challenge. “We have 15 terrabytes (TB) of daily network storage, with another 15TB mirrored daily, and an additional 40TB of archival space. We record videos on a weekly basis including HD and 4k. The file sizes keep getting bigger and bigger, and we’re doing more and more projects.” And to put that in layman's terms/ perspective: “Your average iPhone video might be 15 megabytes (MB),” he says,

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calculating on the whiteboard in his office. One thousand MB equals one gigabyte (GB), with 1,000GB equaling a single TB. “Needless to say, network storage has been a lifesaver,” he adds. Our meeting with Joe was during his last week in the DMC; he started here as an intern 10 years ago when he was a student in the communication studies program, and the experience grew into a full-time position in 2011. By the time you read this, he'll have started in his new role as Content and Creative Specialist in the Office of Communications and Marketing at WCU. There he will be doing even more of what he loves: developing creative content for marketing purposes, including social media for the university. The DMC is a place to create, but it is also a place to become. “We supervise and mentor upwards of 15 student interns,” says Watts. “The training gives them hands-on experience and a cool place to hang out.” While plenty of students interested in broadcasting and video production find their way to the DMC as interns, there are other students who end up here by luck of the draw.

W he n I g ot he re , the y w e re s till us ing ta p e . M y g o a l wa s to up g ra d e to H D a nd the n g o c om p le te ly ta p e le s s Ethan “Weej” Weigant started out as a student worker when the Financial Aid office assigned him here his freshman year. “Everybody wants to work at the Rec Center, and I ended up here,” he laughs. “But I got a lot of mentorship.” That experience grew into a full-time job as a General Technician when he graduated in December with his degree in marketing. Just this past week, he assisted students taking a winter session marketing class with their video projects. The class partnered with SCORE [Service Corps of Retired Executives, a national non-profit organization that counsels business


W C U W e e k ly F o u n d e r s M att To a l a n d Ju s t in S o c h o v k a in 2 0 12

SIDE NOTE: WCU Weekly, Then and Now Dedicated readers of The WC Press might recognize the name WCU Weekly; we featured the then-fledgling campus news program and its plucky founders, WCU students Matt Toal and Justin Sochovka, as part of our “Film and Screen” issue back in January of 2013.

D r T h o m p s e n in T V s tu d io w ith s tu d e nt s owners and aspiring entrepreneurs] and arranged to make videos for different local businesses, including a civil engineering firm, an energy consultant, and a LinkedIn life coach. “There’s a lot that goes into it,” says Weigant. “Recording clients in the studio, using the editing lab. They got a lot out of it.” Another student who stayed on at the DMC after graduation is Video Technician Jerome Ambrose, who started as an intern six years ago. A graduate of the communication studies program, he transitioned into a temporary position before becoming full time in March 2019. His passion is sports broadcasting, and he integrates it into his work as much as he can. “As a student and intern, I’d film football games here and make it into a show, including Cold Cuts, which consisted of highlights of WCU football, as well as women’s and men’s basketball games.” Ambrose also manages WCCTV, the local public access channel that broadcasts WCU and other local content on Verizon channel 33 in the borough.

“Not many college students would be willing to sit in the student union on a Friday night to make a video to post on social media,” says Toal. “We did this every week together for two years. There wasn’t one week that I wasn’t excited to go in and shoot that week’s episode. And it was a great way to meet people, too — by the end of college, I was getting recognized by people out in town, which was neat.” How would Toal characterize that fateful first episode back in 2011? “Calling it ‘amateur’ is giving it too much credit,” he laughs. “It was bare bones. Look — we were two broke college kids trying to make a little news program with our own equipment.” Back then, the 70 views they got on their Facebook page overnight was shocking. How times change. “Today, if something gets 70 views you abandon that project immediately,” he chuckles. Almost a decade later, there are students who follow in Toal and Sochovka’s footsteps, and who are just as passionate as they were. “It’s not just Matt and myself,” says Sochovka. “It gives students real-life experience that translates into jobs. There are countless examples. People went to QVC, or interned at TV stations.” Former WCU Weekly sports reporter Courtland Bragg went on to NFL Films, where his work has already garnered two Emmys. These days, communication studies major Jada Terrell is the executive producer of WCU Weekly, where she is responsible for recruitment, distribution of the show, facilitating meeting and programming, and delegation of responsibilities for the crew. Her plan after college is to work as a television producer for entertainment TV. “WCU Studios has grown in the sense that there is a stronger link between broadcast shows on campus including WCU Weekly, Ram Center, WCU Weekend, and others,” she says. “Now, all the producers of each show on campus are in communication on a bi-weekly basis sharing ideas, trying to get more student involvement. We’ve also grown in membership, and there are many fresh ideas each and every semester, whether it be a technical change like new camera angles, or programming change like the addition of a new segment.” She is especially proud of two segments. “Org Highlight, where we feature students from an organization, and also Multicultural Mapping, where we highlight a person or event from a diverse group,” Terrell says. “We also have segments where we travel off campus, like the Christmas parade, where we’ll feature faces of the larger West 

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T h e W C U W e e k ly Te a m to d ay Business marketing major Cierra Gelfand also found a home in the DMC studio. “I’ve had an interest in broadcasting since middle school,” she relates. “However, people told me that it wasn’t possible and I had to think of something else more realistic to do for a career.” After drifting away from the idea for a few years, she decided to go for it, and in the fall semester of her sophomore year, she found herself in the DMC searching for answers on how to become a member of WCU Weekly. She’s been an anchor and host since the fall of 2018 and the Assistant Producer since spring 2019. She is pursuing a news career, either as an on-air reporter or on the sales and marketing side of the industry.

WCU’s Media and Culture Major Another entity on campus helping students find their digital voice is the Department of Communication and Media, which recently launched a new major to prepare students for careers in broadcasting and beyond. Michael Boyle is a Professor and Assistant Chair of the Department of Communication and Media. “Traditionally, we have lots of students interested in media-related pursuits,” he explains, “and we were not meeting those needs as well as we could. We live in such a media-centric world now, and we needed to bring students up to the present time, and even become forward-thinking about careers in social media, production, and public relations. In today’s global land-

I’ v e ha d a n inte re s t in b ro a d c a s ting s inc e m id d le s c ho ol... p e op le told m e tha t it wa s n’ t p o s s ib le a nd I ha d to think o f s om e thing e ls e m ore re a lis tic to d o for a c a re e r. scape, students need technical skills, but also cultural knowledge.” As a result, the department introduced a new Media and Culture minor in the fall of 2017, followed by the major in fall of 2018. The existing Communication Studies major received an overhaul as well, relaunching this past fall. “Now, we’re much better suited to adapt as things continue to evolve,” says Boyle. There are courses for production, both behind the camera, which focus on technical skills and tools including the Adobe suite of products, and also in front of the camera, such as Dr. Phil Thompsen’s Voice for Broadcast class, where students write copy, learn to speak in front of the camera, and develop their broadcast persona. “Most students are not going to be filmmakers in a traditional sense, but

 Chester community, and not just students. You get to see this wonderful town and its people.” Today, Matt Toal is executive producer of the PHL17 morning news show. “We started WCU Weekly from the ground up. Nearly 10 years later, I did that again at PHL17. We grew a half-hour news program into a four-hour program in Philadelphia, rebranding it and doubling our staff. From editing to anchoring to being on air, Justin and I did everything for WCU Weekly. Today, I’m doing that again, and maybe the reason I love it so much is because of my experience with WCU Weekly.” Justin Sochovka echoes the sentiment. “WCU Weekly landed me my job at QVC. The on-air director said, ‘How are you 22 and can get on a camera on a national stage and be comfortable, like you’ve been there for years?’ And the answer was simple: Because of WCU Weekly. It gave me the real-life experience that made me comfortable to get the job. To this day, I’m the youngest person ever hired as an on-air guest at QVC. If not for those three years of experience being on camera every day, I would not have gotten the job.” “We started with nothing and grew it into something,” Toal reflects. “One of the things I’m most proud of in college was that I created something that other students are still benefiting from today and getting experience.”

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T h e D M C g iv e s s tu d e nt s a c c e s s to in d u s tr y -le a d in g e q u ip m e nt

maybe they’re doing social media for a nonprofit, or an ad agency who is doing video pieces for a local school,” Boyle says. “We want to show the intersection between what you’re learning about in class and real-life experience. You’ll have a client, you’ll develop something for them, propose it, and then make it happen.” In the spring of 2018, students in the Media Writing course developed social media marketing proposals for different clients, including the Communication and Media department itself. When creating the new major, Boyle and his colleagues hosted focus groups with area professionals to find out what would help students get jobs and be successful. “Sometimes you can be kind of insulated from the rest of the world,” he muses, “but you may not be doing as much good as you think. We took their ideas and advice and made it part of the new major.” All students in the major will also complete a required internship. “It’s so important today to have some experience as part of your resume,” Boyle rhap-

S om e tim e s y ou c a n b e k ind o f ins ula te d from the re s t o f the w orld ... b ut y ou ma y not b e d o ing a s m uc h g o o d a s y ou think . W e to ok the ir id e a s a nd a d v ic e a nd ma d e it p a r t o f the ne w ma jor sodizes. “When we talked to our focus group professionals, they liked it when students have experience.” One of the department’s goals is to make the major more accessible. “Right now, the minor can be almost entirely completed online, with five out of the six classes available online. A lot of students are working, so they need flexibility in how they take classes. There are

non-traditional students who want to sharpen skills or maybe switch careers, and this option makes it more accessible.” Students use software such as Zoom to give interviews and presentations and complete interactive assignments. Discussion platforms are another way to engage remotely. “You don’t want online learning to be isolating,” he notes, “you want it to be interactive.” So far, the major is an unqualified success. “Two years in and we have over 300 majors and almost 150 minors,” says Boyle. “We’ve known for a long time that we have lots of students who are interested in these areas. We want to help them do what they want to do.” Members of the community can watch new episodes of WCU Weekly every Monday at 8pm during the semester on the WCU Weekly YouTube channel. Episodes also air around campus through digital signage and on FIOS weekdays at 5pm.

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Home

Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at homebeccanomics.com

Beccanomics

Presenting everyone’s favorite Philly sandwich, and just in time for the “season of hunkering down”. After the holidays it seems many of us turn into grumps, plagued by unshakeable sniffles, hungry due to our New Year’s goals, and feeling forlorn from the photos of our friends’ Caribbean vacations. I embrace the quiet stillness of winter by gathering loved ones and making pulled pork sandwiches with garlicky broccoli rabe, sharp provolone, and fiery long hots. Let’s cook our way to attitudes of gratitude. –bboyd@thewcpress.com Slow-cooked Italian Pulled Pork makes 6-8 sandwiches Spice Rub 1 tsp. rosemary 1 tsp. paprika 1/2 tsp. chili powder 1/2 tsp. thyme 1/4 tsp. ground mustard 1 tsp. black pepper 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Into the Pot: 4 lb. pork butt or shoulder 2 onions, sliced 2 c. water Salt For Sandwich: Seeded rolls Broccoli Rabe Long Hot peppers Sliced Provolone cheese

1. Combine rub ingredients and cover the surface of the meat. 2. Place meat in the crock pot along with onions and water. Set crockpot to low for 8 hours.

3. Remove meat and place in a large bowl. Set up a strainer over

a pot and pour out the contents of the crockpot, reserving all of the liquid and discarding onions. Pull meat apart with hands, separating meat from bone (if your meat was bone-in) and fat. 4. Return meat to crockpot along with reserved liquid. Add at least 1 tsp. kosher salt. Mix well and serve once heated through. Sauteed Broccoli Rabe serves 2 to 4 1 large bunch broccoli rabe (about 2 lbs), ends trimmed 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Pinch crushed red pepper 2 medium cloves garlic, minced 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tsp. salt (enough to completely submerge broccoli rabe). Add broccoli rabe and let cook about 1 minute (rabe will turn bright green). While it cooks, fill a large mixing bowl with ice water. 2. Using tongs, remove rabe from pot and place in ice water. 3. When rabe is completely cool, remove from water bowl and spin in a salad spinner to dry or lay on a clean kitchen towel. 4. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds or until fragrant. 5. Add rabe and toss to mix with garlic and olive oil. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until rabe is tender (about 8 minutes). 6. Sprinkle with crushed peppers. Add pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate in airtight container. FEBRUARY 2020 THEWCPRESS.COM

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A V I SI T TO NEV ERL A ND V I RTUA L REALIT Y story Kanan Gole photos Erik Weber

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I

was in an elevator that stood like an island in the middle of a busy city street, and I was going up. Through the gap where the doors met, I saw that I was rising with the skyscrapers. Sure, they looked a bit cartoonish, but I felt that lightness in my stomach that one often feels on elevators. Then the doors opened and there was only a wooden plank, extending forward. Beyond that, there was no floor, just the city below. “Now just step forward onto the plank.” I couldn’t see Sean Styer, but his voice was there, and he was far too casual about this entire thing. I found myself thinking famous cinematic words, “None of this is real.” So I shuffled forward, slowly, until I was at the end. “If you’re feeling brave, step off.” I definitely was not feeling brave. “I don’t think so,” I said. So Sean, the Operations Manager at Neverland Virtual Reality, took off the high definition, state-of-the-art virtual reality (VR) headset that I was wearing, and we looked at the television to see what would have happened had I chosen to step off. I — or, rather, the virtual me — would have plummeted. This is Richie’s Plank, one of the hundreds of VR experiences that Neverland Virtual Reality offers. And why would

“The mission and vision of Neverland is all about introducing VR tech at the highest level to the community and giving them a place to have fun. It’s also a way to show them what the future looks like in education and entertainment,” says CEO and co-founder Lynn Bagwan

anyone choose this particularly frightening experience? To see if they have the guts, and, of course, to overcome fear. But the thing is, Sean says, “Kids have no issue with Richie’s Plank. The doors open and they walk right onto it.” “It’s like their developing minds are always ready to be surprised. It’s the adults who freak out! VR becomes very real for them,” adds Lynn Bagwan, Neverland’s co-founder and CEO. I can vouch for that; I felt my hands get clammy as soon as the elevator doors opened and instead of assuring myself that this was all just an illusion, my fight-or-flight response wasn’t managing it well. VR elicits real responses without any dangerous consequences,

and that’s precisely why it’s a brilliant invention, picked right off the pages of a science fiction book. Neverland is the brainchild of two ex-Army guys, Brady Bagwan and Josh Smith. The idea to bring VR here grew after visiting VR World in New York. When Brady, Josh, and Lynn all moved to Pennsylvania, they saw opportunity in opening a VR experience center in West Chester that would cater to the Philadelphia suburbs. It was an investment in a rapidly developing and seemingly limitless technology in the fields of entertainment and education. The team transformed a space on East Market Street from an old barber’s shop into a fully equipped VR center. It was Brady who figured out how to put

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together five VR “stations”— all of the hardware and software that comes with each VR headset — for the center. Lynn describes him as the kind of guy with an “I’ll figure it out” kind of approach to anything. Josh handled all the legalities and processes, while Lynn staffed the place and managed daily operations. Everything was renovated and ready in just five weeks, and they opened in October 2018. According to Lynn, “The mission and vision of Neverland is all about introducing VR tech at the highest level to the community and giving them a place to have fun. It’s also a way to show them what the future looks like in education and entertainment.” VR is exceptionally adaptable and creative; the hundreds of experiences that visitors can choose from when they put their headsets on, in a Netflix-like menu that hovers under a starry night sky, is a testament to that. VR’s introduction into mainstream interactive entertainment began when Google launched Cardboard a few years ago, making immersive experiences

available on smartphones. All that’s needed are their low-cost, foldable cardboard “headsets” and VR experiences available on the app store. This is the simplest kind of VR tech, and therefore limited. To understand what VR can really do, visit a center like Neverland, where the consoles are powerful enough for bigger, better worlds for visitors to explore. These headsets are some of the most advanced available. Each “eye” has the resolution similar to a 4K television, along with high-quality audio, for an even more interactive experience. VR is suitable for all ages. Not only can kids come in to virtually run a cafe in the “Job Simulator” experience, but adults can also visit for events, a family night out, and — something I’d definitely be up for — date night. Lynn, alongside West Chester University sophomore and computer science major Sean and a team of arcade managers, guide visitors in choosing experiences fit for them. There is an experience for everyone to enjoy when they visit Neverland. The team is well versed in the software, and values edu-

cating visitors about the technology. Some visitors become so interested, Sean tells us, that they seriously consider how they can apply VR technology to their industries and lives. Neverland’s most popular experiences include the race car simulator Project CARS and Tower Tag, a new laser tag game that Neverland is the first VR experience center to offer, along with Beat Saber and Richie’s Plank. An incredible experience is Tilt Brush, where the devices in our hands become paintbrushes, and open space becomes a canvas for 3D artwork. When I visited, I had the chance to play Beat Saber, which is one of the most popular VR games in the world. It involves holding two nunchaku-like (a Japanese martial arts weapon consisting of two hardwood sticks joined together by a chain, rope, or thong) devices that become lightsabers in the game. The player chooses a song, and objects are “launched” in sync with the song’s beat. The objective is to slice them in half with the lightsabers, and to duck and lean from side to side to dodge

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objects. Neverland recently hosted a Beat Saber tournament, which brought in players all the way from Arkansas. Many of the players knew each other online, and were able to finally meet in person for the tournament. It might seem so far that VR experiences all seem fast-paced and a bit scary, but I’ll also mention that there is an experience which is dedicated solely to taking care of kittens, called Kitten’d. It has become quite popular among the kids, and there’s also Google Earth for those who may just want to stroll by the Eiffel Tower. VR doesn’t strictly have intense applications, but if you want to practice for the inevitable zombie invasion, there is, of course, also an experience for that. Consider Neverland a place to spend a Saturday with family. Multiple players can all be immersed in a single experience, such as boxing and navigating a haunted house, but keep in mind that this would require purchasing time at two stations. Prices at Neverland are based on the amount of time spent at a single station. The Premier VIVE PRO

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station, used for the full, standing experiences, costs $25 for a half hour, $45 for an hour, and $75 for two hours. Players can select as many experiences as they can explore within the time frame purchased. The two, seated Oculus Go stations, used primarily for racing games, cost $15 an hour. West Chester University students can have two hours of access to the VR stations on Fridays from 7-9pm, for only a $10 entry fee (they also accept Ram Bucks). Neverland also offers a $45 per month membership option for regular VR enthusiasts, which includes two hours of station time and other access benefits, found on their website. Neverland has hosted many birthday parties onsite, which cost $375 plus tax for 12 people in headsets. They also have pop-up VR stations that they can install for any event off-site, for $600 per station, for two hours. Lynn considers it a funky entertainment option for weddings and bachelor/bachelorette parties as well. Neverland is a unique place that is often chosen for corporate team build-

ing events. Richie’s Plank is a popular corporate team-building experience, where colleagues encourage each other to get over their fears and the illusion.

“ T h i s i s t h e w o rl d that m y k i d s a re g o i ng to l i v e i n. V R i s g o i ng t o t ra ns fo rm a l ot of i nd u s t ri e s , ” s ays Ly nn, “ I t ’ s m u c h m o re t han g a m i ng . ” Lynn shared a memorable event from December, when the team facilitated an international virtual meet-up for AstraZeneca. The local office employees interacted virtually with their colleagues in London and India, who wore headsets at a VR center in their respective locations. They played games like Beat Saber and Elvn Assassin, and then everyone’s “virtual selves” met in an online music festival in the iWaveVR experience. “We expected there to be time lags and many technical challenges, but it all went so smoothly! Everyone had a lot of fun,” says Lynn.


But VR has greater potential than simply entertainment. The Neverland team realizes that it can advance the education experience for students of all ages. This motivated their partnership with Garnet Valley High School last summer. They installed two full VIVE Pro stations, loaded with various educational experiences that were in line with the high school’s syllabus. There’s adaptive physical education, for students who may be in a wheelchair to have the opportunity to play sports like tennis. To make the entire process of dissection less unpleasant, the frog dissection simulator is perfect for biology students. A particularly unique experience is in learning the composition of the human eye; students can literally delve into the eye and can see how each component works from the inside. Neverland stays in touch with the school to see how the students are using the technology, and if there are any programs that they can install to integrate VR further into daily instruction. The founders aim to continue building partnerships with schools and teachers in the area and even had the opportunity

to present the possibilities of VR in academics at last year’s Science Teachers Association Conference. But they also understand that the technology may be overlooked because of cost. The alternatives to installing a full Premier station include field trips for students to Neverland, or bringing Neverland to the school with the pop-up stations. VR headsets can also be put on a cart that can circulate around classrooms, just like the laptop carts some of us had in schools. “This is the world that my kids are going to live in. VR is going to transform a lot of industries,” says Lynn, “It’s much more than gaming.” The possibilities for adapting this rapidly developing technology for educational use are endless. One brilliant use of it is for psychologists, who can use VR to build certain scenarios to help patients. There has been research done on the effectiveness of this technology in “exposure therapy” of anxiety disorder treatment. This kind of therapy is all about guiding patients in facing their fears so that they can overcome certain psychological barriers. VR creates social and sit-

uational simulations that the psychologist can use in therapy sessions. This can address the fear of public speaking, but it has also been noted to help with PTSD. Lynn hopes to apply this locally and partner with psychologists this year to see what kinds of programs can be beneficial to their practice. For older students, particularly those requiring specialized skills and scenarios, VR can offer valuable learning experiences. For example, the field of medicine is rapidly developing VR software for its students to practice important surgeries in simulations as many times as necessary, without consequences. “How can surgeons practice not only basic surgeries, but also rare surgeries?” posits Lynn. Neverland aims to grow and make waves in the local community, expanding partnerships with educators while exploring how other industries can also benefit from its services. To get the word out about what they have to offer, Neverland applied to a program at West Chester University’s entrepreneurship program to partner with

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...t he wom an , w h o wa s n ot able t o trav el an ym o r e, u s ed G o og le Ear th t o v i s i t a ll the places t h at h er gra ndson visi t ed i n h i s recent tr ip. marketing students. In November of last year, the President of WCU, Dr. Christopher Fiorentino, visited Neverland to experience VR for himself, and featured it in his monthly First Friday video that reaches university students, faculty, and alumni. The video’s theme focused on WCU’s partnerships with various businesses in town. The Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, along with the Center for Community Solutions and the West Chester Chamber of Commerce, connected marketing and business students with businesses in town to help them create marketing plans and contribute ideas for expansion and growth. A group of students assisted Neverland with a business audit as well as a marketing plan. Lynn is immensely grateful to have the university nearby and for the perspectives that the students bring to small business development. Above all, Lynn and the team truly enjoy seeing how impactful and memorable VR can be for visitors. She fondly shared that she had once received an inquiry from a woman who wanted to see if VR would be safe for her elderly mother. The family visited the center and the woman, who was not able to travel anymore, used Google Earth to visit all the places that her grandson visited in his recent trip. Lynn saw how emotional it was for her. “That’s what VR is about, making these kinds of experiences possible and memorable,” says Lynn. In this way and others, Neverland is about creating connections—between our world and the virtual one.

Visit neverlandvirutalreality. org or call at (610) 241-9685 to learn more about hours, making a reservation, and integrating VR into your next event.

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Near and Far

Jamie Jones of WhirlAway Travel explores some travel options abroad and highlights their local counterparts

Now that Dry January is behind us, February is a great month to warm up after a long day of working with a cocktail or pint. While the exact origin of the term “Happy Hour” is a bit foggy, there is some correlation with Prohibition and imbibing a few drinks before going out to dinner. West Chester is full of bars and happy hour specials targeting the college crew, the suits, the laborers and the beer and wine aficionados. I’m always on the lookout for the perfect happy hour hang, and I suppose I always have been. As a child I have fond memories of sipping cherry-filled Shirley Temples on Friday evenings at the Marshallton Inn. It was routine every week. My parents would meet their friends at the Inn’s cozy bar. They had a spot on the corner, and sometimes they would tuck me in at the bar near the door, or I’d perch myself in the deep window sill on the lookout for new arrivals. I vaguely recall a fireplace somewhere in that building. Across the parking lot was the Oyster Bar, now Four Dogs Tavern. Occasionally, the bartender would order a burger for me while my parents enjoyed one last drink. I grew up and later worked as a coat check in that bar, and then at the Oyster Bar into college. My mom still stays in touch with her Happy Hour friends who all had a part in raising me. Fast forward a few years to my mid 20s. I was at that weird stage in life fresh out of college, working two jobs and hanging out with my coworkers. Jitters Sports Bar became my spot, my comfort zone, and coincidently the place where I would meet my husband. Not quite as intimate as the Marshallton Inn, Jitters was the melting pot of bar goers. Police officers, hippies, lawyers, laborers, and in-the-know college students would come together to listen to good music and get heckled by Robbie the bartender, a legend in the West Chester bar scene. To this day, when we go out for a rare date night, we always end up at Jitters as it brings a sense of comfort and home to us in this growing town. During my travels a few places have stood out in much the same way, but there is one that we recently visited during a trip to London that hit close to home. My parents found a local pub years ago, down a small street in the Mayfair neighborhood of London, that they would always rave about. A local haunt with low, woodbeamed ceilings, shelves around pillars just wide enough to rest a pint, low tables with wooden stools to rest weary legs and a cricket game on TV, this particular Kings Arms welcomed the suits, laborers and our family for a cold brew and a brief moment in which to imagine my dearly departed dad feeling right at home reminiscing about a day of exploring London with my mom. Pubs both near and far evoke memories of times past. These days most happy hours are spent with my favorite neighbor at a kitchen table, or during warmer months in our driveway so eloquently referred to as The Verandah. When we get the chance, we venture to a place that takes us back in time, to childhood, singlehood and even to places that we can call our pub away from home. —jjones@thewcpress.com

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If you can spot the five differences in this photo of a Raspberry Pi, email your answers to contests@thewcpress.com, and you’ve got a chance to win a Barnaby’s gift certificate. Congrats to our November winner, Katie Salvi from Downingtown.

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February Playlist DJ Romeo curates a list of the tracks you’ll be singing all month The following is a list of songs that will take over the radio stations in the next few months. You’ll soon know them by heart and play them ‘til they’re tired. But, good news: you can download them first and look like the cool musical genius to all of your friends. djromeo@thewcpress.com

www.djromeo.fm | @DJRomeo24

Eminem ft. Juice WRLD – “Godzilla” blackbear – “me & ur ghost” Halsey – “You Should Be Sad” Selena Gomez – “Rare” Justin Bieber – “Yummy” Jonas Brothers – “What A Man Gotta Do” Breland – “My Truck” Lauv – “Tattoos Together” Noah Cyrus – “July” The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights” Celeste - “Stop This Flame” Tones and I – “Never Seen The Rain” Quinn XCII – “Two 10s” BENEE – “Glitter” Ava Max – “Salt” Roddy Rich – “The Box” Mac Miller – “Good News” Tyga – “Ayy Macarena” Sam Hunt – “Sinning With You” Green Day – “Oh Yeah” Parmalee ft. Blanco Brown – “Just the Way” Future ft. Drake – “Life Is Good” The 1975 – “Me & You Together Song” Doja Cat – “Say So” Summer Walker ft. Usher – “Come Thru” Khalid – “Eleven” Mac Miller – “Blue World” Alan Walker & Ava Max – “Alone, Pt. II” Ally Brooke – “No Good” Steve Aoki, Sting & SHAED – “2 In A Million”

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Profile for The WC Press

The WC Press Digital Issue - February 2020  

Voice of the Borough

The WC Press Digital Issue - February 2020  

Voice of the Borough