The Ultimate Guide for XR Evangelists

Getting Up to Speed at Great Speed

Back in 2004 I was hired by Philip Rosedale to be the Evangelist for the virtual world of Second Life. To succeed I did whatever it took — studied and read, ran around the virtual world, built teams of passionate users and generally preached the gospel of the metaverse. Today there are tens of thousands of evangelists and they’re the life-blood of VR/MR/AR — the future of new realities depends on equipping them to succeed.

I’ve collected a list of great resources over the years and after sharing too often and inefficiently by email it makes sense to share and maintain it on Medium. This should be a living document — if you want me to add to it please comment and share with other Evangelists for their input.

First things first — What is XR? There is a lack of clarity in the field of “realities” so let’s try to clarify before we go further.

FRAMEWORKS

Milgram’s Reality-Virtuality Continuum is the best way to locate and identify the X in XR.

XR DEFINITION

XR entered the vernacular in 2016 defined in Wikipedia as a superset of various types of “Reality”, with “X” as the variable, either as a hybrid or superset of forms:

“ X Reality (XR) consists of technology-mediated experiences that combine digital and biological realities. It encompasses a wide spectrum of hardware and software, including sensory interfaces, applications, and infrastructures, that enable content creation for virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR), cinematic reality (CR), and more. With these tools, users generate new forms of reality by bringing digital objects into the physical world and bringing physical world objects into the digital world.”

MIXED REALITY

Defined by Wikipedia as the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality takes place not only in the physical world or the virtual world,[1] but is a mix of reality and virtual reality, encompassing both augmented reality and augmented virtuality[2] via immersive technology.

What is Mixed Reality? Great Medium post by researcher / VC Mark Billinghurst

Will Mixed Reality Replace Phone Calls? — also by Mark Billinghurst — valuable exploration that uses real applications to enhance our understanding of the term.

Mixing Realities for Collaborative Play by MR practitioner and pioneer Evo Heyning

“The Fourth Transformation” (2016) Book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. No discussion of MR is complete without this text. Scholarly, impassioned, forward-looking and rather definitive. Period.

VIRTUAL REALITY

Defined by Wikipedia as a computer technology that uses Virtual reality headsets, sometimes in combination with physical spaces or multi-projected environments, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment.

AUGMENTED REALITY

Defined by Wikipedia as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

IMMERSIVE ENTERTAINMENT /HYPER-REALITY

Similar to the above but less high-brow and skewing towards more mobile and location-based audience. A working definition of Hyperreality is “a new type of entertainment and new way to explore different realities; it works by combining real-world physicality with video games, movies and stories”. This article gives a great overview of the category and description of 6 leading companies including The Void, Two Bit Circus, HyperReality Experience, Zero Latency, Spaces and Dreamscape Immersive Entertainment

VIRTUAL REALITY HIGH — LEVEL / VISIONARY TALKS

Philip Rosedale What is the Metaverse?(45 mins)

Rosedale on VR in Future of storytelling video (6 mins)

Chris Milk’s Famous “VR as the Ultimate Empathy Machine” TED Talk

Alex Kipman “A Futuristic Vision of the Age of Holograms” — Hololens Preview TED Talk

BOOKS (Fiction)

True Names by Vernor Vinge. Predictive and downright chilling, yet hopeful

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Circle by David Eggers

50 Sci-Fi Books Featuring VR and AR

Please add more in Fiction or Non Fiction categories

BOOKS (non-Fiction)

Mirror Worlds or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a ShoeBox by David Gelernter

I, Avatar by Mark Meadows

Making Synthetic Worlds by Edward Castranova

MOVIES (Fiction)

Logan’s Run (1976) Directed by Michael Anderson

Brainstorm (1983) Director by Bladerunner art director Douglas Trumbull

West World — original 1973 movie, written by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner

Lawnmower Man (1992)

Strange Days (1995) Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Existenz (1999 ) Directed by David Cronenberg

The Matrix (1999)Directed by the Wachowski brothers and needs no introduction

The Minority Report (2002) Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on short story by Philip K. Deck (UX / subject matter)

Iron Man (2008) Directed by John Favreau for UX, not subject matter)

Avatar (2009 ) Directed by James Cameron who created the virtual world in which the film was

Inception (2010)

Her (2014)

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

FILMS : DOCUMENTARY

My Second Life: Molotov Alva and the Search for the Creator (2008) Directed by Douglas Gayeton

Second Skin (2009)

VR: The Movie (2017) A view on the past, present and future of the subject and industry.

TV

Black Mirror

West World

Caprica (TV Series 2009–2010)

STAGE AND THEATRICAL

This category should include immersive theatrical experience influenced by XR

Sleep No More by Punchdrunk

Believe Your Eyes by Punchdrunk — Single audience VR piece w/ supporting actor

The Tempest” Mixed Reality by the Royal Shakespeare Company (w/ Intel and Imaginarium )

“Draw Me Close” at National Theatre in London

Third Rail Theatre Group

MAGAZINE FEATURES

Kevin Kelly’s May 2016 WIRED cover story about Magic Leap

STANDARDS BODIES

This is bafflingly difficult to comprehend with 8 competing and overlapping standards. Rather than list them all, let’s begin with a comprehensive Overview of the various emerging standards.

Khronos Group proposed high level architecture

ESSAYS

(Please suggest your favorites here)

The Age of Superpowers by Avi Bar Ze’ev

VR: A Telescope for the Mind: How We See Changes How We Think: (2016) by Reuben Steiger

VR CONFERENCES

2017 VR Conferences — UploadVR’s list

2017 VR/AR list of 35 conferences

SVVR

VRLA

E3

Versions at New Museum — Creativity-focused VR conference in NY

VR/AR World at Techxlr8 — June 18–20th 2018 in London

AR CONFERENCES

Augmented World Expo (US, Europe and China)

GREAT CONFERENCES (that aren’t tradeshows but relevant and inspiring nonetheless)

Future of Storytelling

Sundance Institute New Frontier Track

SXSW VR/AR Track

INDUSTRY REPORTS

State of VR/AR Industry Project: USC School of Cinematic Arts / New Amsterdam Media: An extraordinarily well-done and exhaustive view of the industry circa 2016

Goldman Sachs’s VR Report 2016: Becoming slightly dated but as professional and rigorous as one would expect

Digicapital 2017: Comprehensive and full of data

San Francisco’s VR Gold Rush Heats Up — a good summary of all the players

Enterprise Adoption of VR from Cognizant

RESEARCH FIRMS

Greenlight Insights— publisher of excellent reports and renowned infographics and producer of the Virtual Reality Strategy Conference in SF

OPEN / USER-GENERATED SOCIAL WORLDS

Kevin Kelly’s May 2016 Wired cover story on Magic Leap “Inside the World’s Most Secretive Startup” made clear how high the stakes are for social VR.

“Only a few companies will dominate the VR networks because, as is so common in networks, success is self-reinforcing. The bigger the virtual society becomes, the more attractive it is. And the more attractive, the bigger yet it becomes. These artificial-reality winners will become the largest companies in history, dwarfing the largest companies today by any measure”
“All that said, it was not the reality of artificial reality that surprised me most. It was how social it is. The best experiences I had in VR or MR involved at least one other person. More people made it better. In fact, just a few more people made it exponentially better. It’s a network effect: The joy of VR is proportional to the square of the number of people sharing it. That means VR will be the most social medium yet. More social than social media is today.”

Whether these worlds will be User Generated or not is open for debate but I have trouble imagining they won’t. That said, here are some of the contenders for the big prize.

Second Life (launched in 2003, still has over a million monthly users and an in-world economy of $500M USD)

SANSAR by Linden Lab, creators of Second Life, applying 15 years of experience as the world’s biggest, user-created virtual world.

HighFidelity The most ambitious attempt to create the metaverse, HighFidelity works using a distributed server architecture and javascript. You can find a great 1 hour product overview from 2015 by Rosedale (interesting point at 34:33 where he acknowledges the power of the “known” and familiar in the palette of the new.

Facebook Spaces — While not technically open / user-generated in the same sense as the previous worlds, the social construct is very similar and the potential scale of the project is staggering

VRchat — Lets you create, publish, and explore virtual worlds with other people from around the world.

DECENTRALAND — Open World raised $26M in Ethereum crypto-currency ICO in August 2017. They imagine a world in which land is valued by money, thus attention can be measured and monetized in a democratic way (theoretically).

Finally, a list of the top social VR apps on Steam, ranked by users.

HISTORICAL FORECASTS AND WORK IN VR

Metaverse Roadmap Summit Report (2006): Forecast and scenario-mapping of future of VR and virtual worlds

(a playlist of projects created by virtual world development firm Millions of Us from 2006–2010) — a fairly deep collection of both portfolio pieces as well as general projects from the era with a good archive of lectures, creative work etc.

INDUSTRY OVERVIEWS

VR Industry 2017 on Trello — excellent, highly categorized profiles of companies

VR Industry Landscape Infographic (Q1 2017)

AR Industry Landscape Infographic (Venture Reality Fund)

2017 AR Landscape by Superventures powered by Spoke

XR Landscape w/ 3 Infographics in One

INDUSTRY GROUPS

The VRARA : Exceptionally well-organized and global in reach they offer meetups and events through local chapters, maintain the largest company database of over 3800 companies across the entire XR spectrum.

The VR Society : Organizer of events in LA (VR on the Lot) and NY (VR in the Sky), their Mission and Board/Staff are listed here.

NEWS SOURCES

UploadVR

VR Scout

The Road to VR

VR SubReddit on Reddit

VRFocus

BLOGS

45 Blogs and Medium Authors to Follow

New World Notes — Wagner James Au began this blog in 2004 and it serves as the longest-running chronicle of virtual worlds and societies — rigorous and comprehensive.

The Ghost Howls

PODCASTS

Voices of VR Podcast with Kent Bye — Authoritative, Scholarly and Excellent

The Rev VR Podcast by Kyle of Studio 216

Gabriella Mirabella’s “Up Next” Podcast

MEETUPS

Fairly Comprehensive Global List by City

ONLINE COMMUNITIES

Virtual Reality — largest Facebook Group

Augmented Reality — good Facebook Page

AR / VR and Virtual Worlds — LinkedIn Group

PATTERN5 Facebook Group

INFLUENCER LISTS

VR “Influencers” List — Onalytica

VC Funds (primarily focused on the category)

SuperVentures

Rothenberg Ventures

The Venture Reality Fund

ARVR Ventures

INCUBATORS

BoostVC Incubator

LISTS OF FUNDED COMPANIES

VC Funded Companies Infographic Listed by Investors

CORPORATE INVESTMENTS IN VR

Companies Investing Most Heavily in VR (A hybrid of VC Funds and Corporate Investments

VR CONTENT CREATION COMPANIES

This list is (and always will be) incomplete. Categorization is one challenge as size, geography etc. My suggestion is that we list a few of the better known firms and then link to good directories such as this Trello board.

Framestore

Sensorium

Here Be Dragons

Felix and Paul

Penrose Studios

VR GAME STUDIOS

List of 11 Game Studios to Watch

ACADEMIC LABS

Venturebeat’s List of 50 Academic VR Labs

VR First — a company focused on creating 50 Labs at Universities

Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab

Harvard VR / AR Lab

VR/AR at MIT

MIT Media Lab — Fluid Interfaces Group

USC Institute for Creative Technologies

Emerging Media Lab at The Institute for the Future (Palo Alto)

PUBLICLY FUNDED LABS

New York Economic Development Commission’s VR/AR Lab Fueled by $6 million investment by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), the lab will be the first publicly-funded VR/AR facility in the country to support startups, talent development, and research and innovation.

EDUCATION

How to Get a Job in the VR Industry

EXPANDED REALITY

VR and its close cousin, AR cannot be viewed as isolated phenomenae — rather they represent the convergence of a suite of technologies that alter the way we see and interact with information. From the lenses required to display complex optics to the powerful chips that run the simulations, these technologies intersect to create a whole that is far more significant than the sum of its parts. We might call this combination of technologies the XSCOPE — a way of describing how seeing differently lets us change the world.