OC Fair’s GameFest gives players a dose of virtual reality

Jonathan Edwards jumped and dodged as masked soldiers fired assault rifles at him.

Though it might have seemed to the 14-year-old from Costa Mesa that he was in a war zone, the soldiers, fortunately, weren't real.


They were part of a virtual reality video game that Jonathan was playing at the iBuyPower GameFest on Saturday at the Orange County Fair.

The festival, billed as a digital carnival meant to introduce PC gaming to casual fans, is being held through Sunday at The Hangar at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.


One of the highlights is a virtual reality village presented by Oculus, the company known for the Oculus Rift, a VR headset that immerses users in whatever game they're playing.

Dozens of people tried their hand at the headset Saturday morning. Some became so enveloped in the digital reality that they had to be led back into place by event workers after straying from the game screen with their headsets on, presumably trying to chase down an enemy alien or escape the pursuit of pirates.

Ramiro Martinez, 25, of Fontana said that when he dropped something in the game, it actually felt like an object had fallen from his grasp. Martinez said he plays a lot of PC games but had never tried virtual reality before.

Elaine Lin, 50, of Irvine said she likes old-school games like Super Mario Bros., but she found the headset to be interactive and immersive.

The event also offers several other attractions.

Spectators watched as gamers dueled in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in a long row of computers.

Other tournaments are being held throughout the weekend. Some will be shown on a big screen above The Hangar stage.

Throughout the day Saturday, the screen showed the World Cup tournament of the popular game Overwatch. A viewing area was set up in front of the screen for visitors who wanted to watch.

In addition, a row of 75 computers and various gaming stations were set up for people to try their hand at Rocket League, Overwatch and other titles.

This is iBuyPower's first event during the fair, though it held a gaming tournament at The Hangar last year that brought out thousands of people over a few days, said Tyrone Wang, development manager for the Industry-based gaming PC company.

That led the fair and the company to partner for GameFest, he said.

The event is free between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. with paid admission to the fair, which costs $14 for adults and $7 for children and senior citizens.

For tickets for access to the festival after 7 p.m., visit

The fair will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday, the final day of its month-long run.