I Made Someone Cry

I was invited to curate a VR experience for Electroluxx Sunday Mass Party this past weekend. Sunday Mass is full of folks in costume taking in pieces by various artists and dancing their hearts away on the dancefloor. I had a nice closed off space which was small enough to feel intimate and secure, but spacious enough to have friends of someone in the headset get to look at their reactions and greet them back into reality. Ideally, my curations would have two people in headsets facing each other, so when they can finish the experience they could greet each other with excitement back into the real world, like going to the movies but way more intense. I invested in one Samsung phone and Gear VR. If anyone wants to sponsor me for a second one, please contact me ;) With having only one to share, I became the greeter. I was there to welcome each person back with a smile and a light touch.

I recently wrote about my project Tonbo Haus which seeks to bring VR to people who wouldn’t necessarily have a chance to experience it. Electroluxx’s audience is primarily gay men and women from a variety of industries — artists, lawyers, etc. They all come together because Electroluxx knows how to throw a great party — VR, Tarot Card Reading and a 10 min massage was also part of the festivities of the night. For this environment, I decided to showcase an option of two films — Take Flight from New York Times (meditative) and Evolution of Verse from Vrse (psychedelic). Most people at the party chose the Vrse film and came back a second time to experience Take Flight. I guess it was a good come down experience for those at the end of a high energy party. Many people thought Vrse was going to be some roller coaster ride in the middle of the jungle. They were pleasantly surprised. Evolution of Verse is a surreal dream where the end holds you in a very spiritual moment. I greeted one guy out of the headset with tears in his eyes. “That was cool and really intense,” he said as he grabbed to hug me. This is why love this project. Breaking down the barriers of what people expect in a new technology and giving them an experience.

Left: VR newbie reaching out for the baby’s hand in Evolution of Verse. Right: The fellow who cried in my Samsung Gear.

I have this rush to bring these ideas of where VR can go and where it can take us, but then I realize it has a lot already going for it. We’re on a brink of a revolution and the restrictions on how people receive quality VR content needs to be released. This why I’m so happy that companies like Unity and Unreal Engine recognize the value of free software and collaboration with open source code. They are experts in building community to make exceptional things. I’m not a traditional gamer, but I have been playing certain games in my Gear. The puzzle games are my favorite because I’m exploring worlds while using my wits. Bridging that gap and giving resources to those with an idea will make all the difference in the future of VR content. I was once quite critical in some of the first 360 content I experienced, but then I realize I can’t be a hater without being a creator. I know trial and tribulations will come to pass in my explorations in these programs because I am not a seasoned coder and have never made a game in my life. But I believe in the future of the field and in order to be at the table, you need to understand the language. I can only hope to make someone cry one day.