XR Bootcamp — Why Work in XR?
This current, persistent wave of XR has been life-changing for me personally since it directed a significant amount of my post-graduate education — as I’ve been researching social interactions in VR — and, beginning with VR First, brought me into contact with a diverse set of interesting and motivated people. Those that I’ve encountered have come into the industry with motivations ranging from art to enterprise, and health to education. Likewise, the roles that people find within the field may be highly technical, as with game development, or non-technical, as with research or user-experience driven roles. Since the current exposure to XR is bringing even more people to work on it professionally, I wanted to introduce some of the people I’ve met in VR, what they’re working on, and what inspired them to work in XR to begin with. These were the answers they gave me.
Working in VR was one of my early dreams. During high school and university, I was very excited about the gaming industry, not only as an individual gamer, but also as a person who wants to make it a part of their career path. I was in love with sci-fi universes too, so before VR or XR gained popularity, before even knowing what VR really was, I dreamt about playing games and simulations with my whole body, using personalized gadgets that let me feel those games and simulations as if they were real life. The technological improvements developed for VR in past years have just recently made that possible. As Oculus was being acquired by Facebook and the second wave of VR started, I decided to realize my dream and start building WalkOVR, a wearable locomotion system that lets VR enthusiasts move in VR games and apps directly by moving their physical body. It is just the first of many human-computer interactions we will develop and provide in coming years.
I have always been looking for a way to unite the many different artistic media I like to work with. VR finally allowed me to do that: I can utilize my skills from traditional painting, digital painting, 3D modelling, art direction, music composition and performance, as well as UX design. The result is a more personal and deeper connection to the world inside my head. I’m the solo artist of a large room-scale art installation called Amaryllis VR. Uniting the polar opposites of natural and artificial, I explore how an immaterial, virtual world can be made to feel personal and physical.
I majored in Psychology and then completed my master’s in Cognitive Science where I combined Psychology with Computer Engineering. I have a strong interest in Human-Computer Interaction and I think XR is at the very heart of this field. I started working with VR in 2015 at VR First in Istanbul, Turkey. Then, I worked at a Social VR Startup, Teleporter, with a brilliant team of gamers for more than 2 years. Since VR still provides a rich field of research, I wrote my master’s thesis on how avatars affect our perception in VR. Currently, I’m working on independent research projects on AR and VR as I’m in the process of coming to the US.
My inspiration for getting into XR started with the Oculus DK1 Kickstarter which I baked while I was directing my first animated TV Special in 2012. Coming from CG animation, the technical entry threshold of VR felt quite low and its new possibilities in story telling were very thrilling. However, I soon realized the true challenge of VR was how to actually tell stories in a medium that lets the viewer be present within them, where there was no camera to direct the audiences and where interaction felt like an integral part of the experience. This uncharted territory strongly triggered my passion for experimenting and exploring and still drives my motivation to work in XR to this day. As creative director at K5 Factory in Munich, Germany. I’m now using XR in many different areas of application: advertising and promotion applications, games and film adaptations to multilinear narrative experiences.
WalkOVR is a 6DOF based wearable motion detection system that uses motion capture algorithms to let users move in place with their Virtual Reality games and applications.
Amaryllis is a room-scale VR art installation, created by Danish-Armenian artist Mariam Zakarian. Early versions of the piece have been exhibited publicly since mid-2016 and the first completed scene, Ocean,is exhibited internationally since its Danish premiere in August 2017.
Teleporter VR is a Social VR platform aiming to ‘unite the gaming nation’, they feature a shared space and multiple stream from which visitors can watch their favorite games and players.
K5 Factory have set out to create compelling immersive experiences. Through their storytelling and technical execution, they build experiences that allow audiences to become an active part of the story, whether a mixture of the physical and digital world — or completely imagined.