Always & Forever Computer Entertainment celebrates year 1. There’s a huge update to with all new work.

Always & Forever celebrates its first birthday this month. The last year has been the most challenging and fulfilling year of my life. After leaving my job at Google with little to no plan, I directed a music video called Dennis, then designed interactive experiences for Kickstarter’s Film Festival, Paramount’s Zoolander 2, and sound-toys for Chrome Music Lab.

Most recently, I created Playthings, a virtual reality experience that lets you play music with junk food, and it’s already been shown at NY Fashion Week and TriBeCa Film Festival. There’s also a huge update to

My first virtual reality project, called Playthings, lets you play music with junk food.

Leaving Google

Inaugural members of Google Data Arts Team, 2010. Doug Fritz, yours truly, Jono Brandel.

Like any office, working at Creative Lab came with its ups and downs, but for me it was characterized by the ups. My first job was, by all accounts, a dream. Looking back, I can’t believe how all these brilliant people took the time to endure / nurture a baby-idiot like me.

For as much as I loved working there, I was carrying this internal doubt as to whether or not I was fulfilling my potential. I spent two weeks time in-between finishing undergrad and starting my first full-time job. That aimless fuck-around / self-discovery phase you’re supposed to start upon entering the “real world” was relegated to nights and weekends.

All the while, I constantly found myself asking: what does it look like when I use 100% of myself on me? On my own ideas? So many half-finished projects piled up in that time. Upon leaving, I had few other plans but to finish them and see where they led. I pictured a life where I spent half my time on client work and half my time on self-directed projects. And for a little while, that was generally what happened.

Dennis is a code driven music video that explores what it means to let people “see” a song.

First Steps

Every movement responds to the song’s finest details. Each frame is created in real time with code in WebGL — nothing is pre-rendered. An interactive camera allows you to explore the scenes, which are created *~with math~* every time you press play.

I had the pleasure of working with some really cool clients, promoting people and brands I’m excited about. The Kickstarter Film Festival map lets you see all the brick and mortar Kickstarter-backed projects in the entire country. Chrome Music Lab is a collection of interactive toys that teach kids about music and the science of sound. And most importantly, Blue Steel Studio lets you morph your face into Derek Zoolander’s.

Originally I was anxious about my ability to “get work” / maintain client relationships / all that professional sh — ahem … jazz. I never considered myself to be much of a networker. To my relief, I found out that I was actually doing it ambiently during those 5 years at Google. Doing a good job and not being a total asshole turns out to be networking enough.


An early Cinema4D experiment

Which brings me to October of 2015. I was creatively switched on, entirely free, and unburdened. The self-doubt was gone. I felt like a unified person, my “day-job” and my “nights” — my whole self working towards one thing. It became so much easier just to “be me,” to meet new people, to explain myself. It was as if all these asterisks were scrubbed from my identity.

Infinite Will, a collaboration with popcorn_10, has been watched over 9 million times, lol

But I’ll get real: for 7 months, I had spent nearly all of my waking hours in a 6x6 foot room in my apartment … by myself … typing. My commute consisted of the 4 steps in between my bedroom and my office. And to get really real: I had just returned from my first trip to Japan (only my third time out of the US) to a gut-wrenching breakup. High time for a change of scenery.

I can’t claim that this idea to “do my own thing” was self-inspired. That past year I’d seen so many of my friends take that same plunge, in some cases, changing industries entirely. Take for example interactive installation art. I knew that Gabe, his collaborator Dave Rife, ( and their friend Beau Burrows were sharing a giant studio space in Bushwick. So I was like, “dudes can I come hang out?” And that’s where I’ve been ever since. Honestly, I’ve never been happier, and I don’t know what I’d be doing right now if it weren’t for these guys and this space.

Just six white boys in Bushwick. The studio sends its love. Left to right: Neil Cline, Gabe Liberti, George Michael Brower, Dave Rife, Jon Baken, Beau Burrows, and Cortana too.

The Active Space

This guy, the HTC Vive, turned up in the studio a few days prior to my arrival, and I’ve been fixated ever since. At the time, the hardware was only available to select developers (among whom I could not count myself). I was really lucky to get my hands on one of these (for this, I must thank Gabe Liberti’s unrivaled talent for schmoozing).

Those who know me know that interactive music is the ~*air I breathe~* … so it was really clear that I should be making virtual instruments. I silenced my phone on my birthday. I worked through New Year’s. I even made up a shitty excuse to not visit my family for Christmas. I’m still here 7 days a week and I’ve become increasingly pale.

All of a sudden my tools resemble a game designer’s instead of a web developer’s. Cinema4D and Unity have supplanted Sublime Text and Illustrator.

All of a sudden my tools resemble a game designer’s instead of a web developer’s. While separated from the Vive on a family trip to Miami Florida, I put my new 3D skills to work making assets. I spend my time animating, modeling, programming, designing sounds, textures, graphics, and composing music. This type of work calls for a confluence of literally everything I love to do. I don’t harbor any doubt as to whether or not I’m using myself to my full potential.

Playthings & Virtual Reality

Playthings at TriBeCa Film Festival. George fawning over his own work. Photo: Neil Cline

You never really “do VR” alone. Seeing people engage with my work in real life, as opposed to uploading files to a web server and then staring at Twitter, has been refreshing to say the least.

Attempts at eating virtual food are surprisingly common. Photo: Neil Cline

I learn what to change so much faster. I’ve spent so many years trying to make things that are satisfying on a visceral level, but the only avenues of communication I’ve had between myself and a “user” have been mouse and keyboard. Now I have ability to read a user’s whole body.

This level of immersion comes with the power to functionally create matter: impossible objects you can actually touch, but don’t look or move or behave or sound like anything you could find in the real world.

It feels really exciting to be on the frontier of this new medium where there’s still so much to figure out. I’m feeling really encouraged by the recognition the project has gotten so far. After showing at Fashion Week and TriBeCa Film Festival, I want Playthings to bring me to more places like these — kind of like … use it as a personal jet.

Next season

Historically, when asked where I saw myself in five years, my eyes rolled. But I’m starting to get excited about the future of Always & Forever. And as time goes on, I can’t really claim to be “one guy” anymore.

TriBeCa Film Festival, hour 36. “Hi, have you tried VR before?” Photo: Neil Cline

Playthings is getting bigger, and I find myself needing help. I’m lucky to have so many friends with whom I’ve already cultivated beautiful collaborative relationships. In the time since Fashion Week, Baken composed an original soundtrack for the game and designed tons of new food-instruments. Neil is learning Unity to help me bring Playthings to launch, and he’s already contributed so many awesome new ideas.

Turns out we’re serious: My closest friends have become my colleagues. We spend all day in a studio ~*making art~* … so this is me gloating: the dream is real.


George Michael Brower
Founder, CEO, COO, CTO, CIC
Always & Forever Computer Entertainment

Action items:
1. Follow our new Instagram account.



George is the creator of Playthings and founder of Always & Forever Computer Entertainment, a studio for VR and interactive media.

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George Michael Brower

George is the creator of Playthings and founder of Always & Forever Computer Entertainment, a studio for VR and interactive media.