Kevin Joyce is the editor-in-chief at VRFocus, and he talks about how they’re covering everything to do with virtual reality gaming and entertainment at VRFocus. He talks about how it was founded and funded by nDreams CEO Patrick O’Luanaigh, who is working on a number of VR experiences and noticed that there wasn’t a site in the UK covering VR in a comprehensive way.

kevin-joyce-avatarAt the moment VRFocus is just Kevin and Jamie Feltham, who has been tracking a lot of the online communities and breaking news in the VR space. VRFocus does a lot of excerpting from other articles to pull out the newsworthy bits of information, as well as a lot of original reporting, live blogs at conferences, and video interviews.

He talks about some of the things that need to happen for VR to go mainstream, and how VRFocus is trying to help communicate what’s happening in this space beyond to the wider video gaming community. He says that VR needs to make incremental steps towards going mainstream, and sees that one day VR experiences will be prolific and the standard norm for people. There’s so many things that VR can do and that we’re just only starting to scratch the surface.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro. Worked in video games journalism, and VRFocus funded by nDreams’ Patrick O’Luanaigh. No VR website in UK, and started a site where he has full editorial control. Launched in February 2014. Focusing on VR as entertainment
  • 1:00 – VRFocus as the beat reporter of the VR space. Aim to cover video gaming and entertainment and how VR is changing VR gaming
  • 1:39 – SVVRCon coverage. Did liveblog coverage about VR gaming. Conducted 28 video interviews and released over time.
  • 2:27 – What got you excited about VR? Only touched on briefly on VR before getting the job at VRFocus. Independent game developers are driving a lot of VR innovation and showing what the power of VR is
  • 3:10 – VRFocus’ Jamie Feltham tracks a lot of the online communities and breaking new stories.
  • 3:58 – Just Kevin and Jamie putting out 12-14 articles a day
  • 4:15 – Pulling out news bits from existing content. Aimed at non-VR audience and push beyond your normal audience and share what’s going on in a way that’s consumable.
  • 5:30 – Measuring the response. Doing a lot better within the VR community than the larger video gaming community. Trying to let people know about what VR is
  • 6:04 – Reaching out to new audiences. Finding the middle ground, and the big projects excite a lot of people. Cover Sony because it’s closer to the larger audience
  • 6:50 – Events to cover for VR. Meet-ups and conferences like SVVRCon, GDC, & E3.
  • 7:44 – What types of games he’s personally experienced. VirtualReality.IO isn’t a game, but was a compelling experience to show the seamless interface to be able to go from game to game without leaving VR. VR needs something like this to go mainstream.
  • 8:38 – People projecting what they’d expect would be a great VR experience, but they find out it’s not as great as they expect. VR needs to be incremental to minimize simulator sickness.
  • 9:48 – Most surprising is to see the general public’s reaction to VR without ever hearing or knowing anything about it.
  • 10:24 – There will be a time where VR is the norm, and it’ll be standard. So many things VR can do, and we’re just only starting to scratch the surface.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Ivan Blaustein is a co-founder of the Orange Country VR meetup, which happens to be in the same location as the headquarters for Oculus VR. Their first meet up had 180 people, and they had five meetings within their first month including a couple of game jams hackathons.

Ivan-BlausteinIvan talks about fostering community through the process of getting together to create VR experiences, rather than just talking about it or demonstrating existing VR experiences. Leading up to the Immersive Education Initiative’s Immersion 2014 gathering, OCVR held a couple of educational game jams and were demonstrating the winners of those hackathons.

He talks about how the VR Classroom, VR Typing Trainer and PVRamid demos were demos that were much more compelling in VR than in 2D, topics that haven’t been well-explored in the past, and were a really polished experience for having been created within 48 hours. You can check out these and the other demos on the OCVR site here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro – co-founder of the Orange County Virtual Reality. Meetup group for VR developers near Oculus VR headquarters. Had 180 people show up to try 12 demos including a DK2 demo from Oculus. Had 5 events in the first month teaching how to create VR experiences and to foster community
  • 0:56 – Dove in head first. Other events that they’ve held. Had hackathons for the past couple of weekends. Developers split into teams to develop educational experiences to have demos to show at the Immersive Education Initiative’s Immersion 2014 gathering.
  • 1:35 – In partnership with UC Irvine and collaborated with them on a hackathon. VR Classroom won that VR competition. Had another group the following weekend and a couple of guest judges. Showing two top prizes from Hackathon. VR Typing Trainer and the Pyramids.
  • 2:45 – VR Classroom developed by someone who never VR. Take traditional classroom and twist it on it’s head. Each classroom has a VR twist to it. History room that has a small-scale model of the Roman coliseum. Approach it, and the room walls fall down and you’re in the middle of the Roman Coliseum.
  • 4:07 – VR Typing Trainer like Mavis Beacon. Can’t see your fingers and forces you to learn the keys. Has a TRON style. Fun and exciting and difficult to cheat
  • 5:03 – PVRamids done in UE4. On-rails experience exploring the pyramids
  • 5:55 – Design principles of educational demos – Can only be in VR and wouldn’t be as compelling in 2D. Look for things that haven’t been well-explored in the past. And to create a polished experience within 48 hours. Other Wii mote and Google Maps integrated experience didn’t have as much polish
  • 7:19 – Forming community through hackathon projects. Future plans? Really amazed by the support by the community. Not the first VR meetup group, but actually getting together to make things. Talked to Smithsonian to possibly work with 3D scanned objects to see what they can do with with. Talked with Eric Greenbaum about doing a fitness game jam.
  • 8:50 – First development experience at the Portland Game Jam. Having time boxed constraints to make something real in 48 hours. First time in getting hands dirty with Unity. What can get done in 48 hours. Get to see what’s possible. Any time you get together and bouncing ideas off each other is an exciting creative environment
  • 10:14 – Where VR could go? Everywhere. Scared of Facebook metaverse. The positive potentials is making the world a better place and do great things, live healthier lives and learn new things.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Mike Arevalo talks about the process of creating the VR Typing Trainer, which was created as part of the Orange Country Virtual Reality Meetup’s 48-hour Educational Game Jam.

mike-arevaloMike talks about the process of developing the game, and the structure of the game jam. His day job is to create educational applications, and they are always talking about how to immerse students in environments to help them learn more effectively.

Mike says that studies have found that gaming can stimulate a student’s brain in a way that static presentations never can, and that immersive VR can be a powerful way to unlock the parts of your brain to make it easier to learn new things. His advice to other game developers is to focus on getting the immersion right in your experience, and that your other goals and learning objects are more likely to fall into place.

I had a chance to play the VR Typing Trainer at Immersion 2014, and it is a very immersive and fun way to improve your typing. Having the words flying towards your face does create a certain amount of pressure and tension that makes the ordinarily dull process of typing much more engaging and fun. I could see how playing this game could help to cultivate some useful typing skills for when you’re in VR, and it’s definitely worth checking out — especially for an experience that was created in 48 hours.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – VR Typing Trainer – Educational game to bring typing into VR to type without looking at the keyboard.
  • 0:36 – Sitting in Tron-like world, and targets at you and you have to type the word that’s printed on it. It’s an endless runner.
  • 1:00 – It’s a simple core game mechanic. Uses object pooling to take existing objects and get them to move towards the player. Have an algorithm to determine the difficulty depending on how long you’ve been playing the game.
  • 1:37 – Creating the Tron environment because it needed to something more interesting
  • 2:06 – Educational Hackathon
  • 2:26 – Ideas were pitched, and then broke up into groups
  • 2:53 – Saw Tuscany demo, and needed to get into VR
  • 3:09 – Use VR typing trainer to learn how to use keyboards more efficiency.
  • 3:47 – Hard to work with 7 programmers with different skill sets and not all Unity users. A lot of other art exhibits that were there. It had a bit more
  • 4:31 – A lot of planning required to coordinate.
  • 4:56 – Potential for VR. Mike is an educational app developer. How to immerse students to learn at a more effective rate, and gaming stimulates a student’s brain in a way that static presentations never can. Immersive VR can unlock parts of brain to make it easier to learn new things.
  • 5:48 – Advice to other VR developers to make an educational experience. Immersing the player into a place where they’d never be able to be otherwise. If you get the immersion down, then everything else will fall into place.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Kieran Nolan is a network administrator who has been creating different elearning applications with immersive technologies. He’s 3D printing objects that students either create or modify from Thingiverse withing Google SketchUp. He’ll take a digital photograph of their objects, and then upload it to a virtual art gallery that can be viewed with an Oculus Rift and networked to another school system. He’s also been teaching classes in Minecraft, and even had his students collaborate on building a working QR code.

Kieran-NolanKieran also talks about how he sees cryptocurriences like BitCoin playing a larger part of the future infrastructure that’s going to enable all sorts of things that we haven’t even thought of. He sees BitCoin as a protocol that will enable all different types of decentralization of our infrastructure. One example that he provides is Namecoin, which is like decentralized DNS and a “decentralized open source information registration and transfer system based on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

He says that there’s a lot of potential for using immersive technologies in education, and he sees that it’s going to bring in a whole new curriculum because it’s so engaging and compelling for students.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – e-learning and using oculus rift with the virtual arcade. Have a 3d printing networking set up with another school. Design 3d object, 3d print it, take picture
  • 1:14 – Workflow. Using sketch up to design objects. Eventually want to use Minecraft for designing objects. 3D print and take photos, hashtag and upload to virtual arcade to be viewed. Built a QR code in Minecraft. Lots of collaboration with Minecraft. Kids adapt to the Oculus Rift pretty quickly.
  • 3:57 – 3D printing and then put virtual images within in and use btsync. Enigma portal to get schools to work together and get older students mentoring younger students. Use QR codes to move between places. Using Titans of Space with students with Aspergers. Most interested in interschool 3D printing
  • 7:04 – Immersive education keys for engagement. Downloading 3D objects from Thingiverse, and changing it. Each student took photo, and then took turns walking through virtual art gallery to see their work.
  • 8:52 – Potential for using immersive technologies. Going to bring in a whole new curriculum. Running classes in Minecraft to do math and English.
  • 10:16 – Excited for BitCoin in education. Wanted to use BitCoin as an incentive for learning. Using the BitGigs model to do tasks to learn, and get paid in BitCoin to do small jobs. It’d teach kids about money and cryptocurrencies.
  • 12:03 – Bitcoin and the future of virtual worlds. BitCoin is a protocol like TCPIP that you can build on top of it. Namecoin is like decentralized DNS. It’s a “decentralized open source information registration and transfer system based on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.” It’ll revolutionize things, and it’ll play a big part of decentralizing everything.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Philip Lunn is the CEO of Nurulize, which is an entity created by the collision of VFX and video gaming for Virtual Reality. Co-founder of Nurulize has developed a process to be able to capture the world in a high-resolution, photorealistic way with a framerate ranging from 100-200 frames per second.

philip-lunnIn their VR demo called Rise, they combine FARO LIDAR scans, HDR photography, and xxArray character captures in order to create photorealistic environments and people within VR. He talks about the mostly manual process that they go through in order to capture the entire environment in a point-cloud with sub-millimeter accuracy, build a 3D mesh from the point-cloud data and project the HDR photos onto it, and then use real-time shaders to get framerates as high as 100-200 fps.

Philip talks about their plans to use their process to help capture retail locations, film trailers and high-value objects that you can’t get close to.

He sees VR as the biggest breakthrough in computing that there’s been in the past 25 years, and that virtual reality goggles will eventually replace our computer monitors and that Nurulize wants to help populate those virtual work spaces with idealized and exotic, 3D-scanned environments.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro – CEO of Nurulize. Developed a process to capture the world in high-resolution, photorealistic and with a very high framerate. Creating VR experiences for the Rift
  • 0:32 – Rise demo that has laser-scanned warehouse. Scott Metzger has developed this process using high-resolution photography at multiple exposures, and then using FARO laser scanners to capture the entire environment in a point-cloud with sub-millimeter accuracy, build a 3D mesh from the point-cloud and project the photos onto the mesh, and developed real-time shaders up to 100-200fps.
  • 1:53 – Dealing with occlusion issues. Created a narrative around this. It’s a full environment without occlusion.
  • 2:54 – LIDAR scanner FARO commercially available and then uses 3-4 tools to process that
  • 3:23 – Reverse photogrammetry process
  • 3:45 – Commercial business that is doing service work to do captures
  • 4:05 – Special effects shops moving from film to VR. Have enough hardware processing power
  • 4:47 – Target markets: Retail. Film Trailers and High-value objects that you can’t get close to
  • 5:09 – How did you get into VR. Been in computer graphics for 20 years with real-time ray tracing. VR is the biggest breakthrough in computing that there’s been in the past 25 years.
  • 5:45 – Where do you see VR going. Ready Player One is a good roadmap. VR HMD will replace your monitor, and Nurulize want to help fill that with 3D-scanned environments and be in dream environments
  • 7:02 – Travel to exotic locations and capturing exotic unattainable things
  • 7:30 – Won’t be interested in creating things that don’t exist in reality. More interested in capturing real-world places.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

daniel-greenDaniel Green is the Co-Chairman of the Mid-America Chapter of the Immersive Education Initiative, and has been involved in teaching coding skills with immersive technologies. He points to a lot of educational resources at code.org that they use including curriculums using MIT’s 2D, drag-and-drop gaming platform Scratch, the 3D platform of Alice, Greenfoot for teaching introductory Java programming, and then programming mods within Minecraft. There’s also MinecraftEDU, which has a community of educators who share their programs with each other.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Ka Chun Yu is the Curator of Space Science at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He’s in charge of the digital planetarium there, and has been studying the effectiveness of using immersive dome environments in teaching different astronomical principles.

Ka-Chun-YuHis research has shown that immersive technologies are more effective at teaching certain astronomical principles such as why there are different seasons and how the sun rises and sets in different places throughout the year as well as throughout different places on the planet. That may not be a total surprise, but what was interesting was that the process of transforming and distorting immersive, 3D visualizations in order to work within a 2D projected context may actually be worse than telling people about it without using any visualizations at all. There are certain topics where being able to see objects fly around you are a critical part of understanding how the world works.

Ka Chun also talks about how he’s been using immersive technologies to facilitate group discussions with experts on various ecological issues facing us today. The technology can help provide a holistic picture on topics like the complete water cycle and the limited sources of fresh water. Having data visualizations and immersive experiences can make dry topics more compelling and engaging, and provide a solid foundation and context for having deep discussion around challenging abstract issues that we face as a society. He’s found that using immersive technologies like a digital planetarium can provide an experience to a large audience that is both very effective and compelling.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro – Curator of space science and working with digital planetariums and studying the effectiveness of using immersive dome technology to teach astronomy and for telling stories about planet earth and regional ecological issues
  • 0:39 – Effectiveness of fully, immersive dome for teaching astronomical principles compared to same visual content that’s projected onto a 2D wall as well as a control group with no visual content at all. For astronomical seasons, the immersive dome students had far superior results and if it’s projected onto a 2D wall, then those students did worse. Showing immersive visuals in a 2D screen, you get distortions and it’s a much inferior experience when compared to immersive visuals.
  • 2:19 – Other astronomical principles better describe in a dome. Seasons requires you to look around and be able to watch the objects move across the sky. Other results are not as straight forward when you don’t need visuals that move around you.
  • 3:06 – Sun rising and setting in different parts of the sky and able to show direction of rising and that it changes during the time of year and depending on where you life. You can even show how the sun rises and sets on Mars. Have the universe in their simulation and can travel through the entire universe and travel through time and at different viewpoints and perspectives to look at various issues, which is more effective
  • 4:38 – Lectures and dialogues about ecological issues on planet earth. Have Google Maps type of capability. Connect people to issues of global change and how to be a part of the solution
  • 5:37 – Other applications. 100% of California is under drought conditions. Help understand about water issues and where fresh water comes from. Fly around and show where water originates. Show them the water cycle process, rainfall and drought data, and connect them to global issues. Easier to show data in immersive dome environments than have someone just tell you about it in an abstract way.
  • 7:38 – Trying to come up with a model so that audiences can have a group discussion with experts talking about these global issues from water conservation to sustainable agriculture. Need to educate the public and do it in a compelling way, and visual storytelling is very powerful and compelling, it looms overhead and is much more effective and immersive. Having these discussions with immersive technologies laying the context and foundation for the discussion is a very power and effective approach.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Ross Mead studies Human-Robot Interactions to make robots and virtual human non-player characters (NPCs) more realistic to engage with. There’s a lot of overlap between designing body language for physical robots and for NPCs since they use the same principles.

RossMeadNon-verbal communication is a fundamental building block of social interactions, and he talks about principles like spacing, socially-appropriate eye gaze, gestures, using and understanding pointing behaviors, modulating speaking voices to be louder/softer or faster/slower, head nodding, and taking turns when communicating.

He talks about how humans are always broadcasting information with everything that they do whether it’s speaking or not speaking, moving or not moving. Any reaction or lack of reaction communicates some form of meaning of whether or not your interested and engaged or disinterested and not fully connecting.

Body language can tell you the nature of the relationship with someone, and being able to identify open and closed body language cues can add another layer of depth and realism to interactions with NPCs within virtual environments.

Ross says that there a couple of ways to measure how believable your social interactions was either robots or virtual avatars. There are physiological measures that can come from looking at heart rate, galvanic skin responses, respiration rate, and general activity like the speed and frequency of motion. But there are also traditional psychological surveys that can measure how believable or comfortable the interaction was subjectively perceived.

He sees that the top two body language cues to implement with virtual humans would be adaptive positioning and automating co-verbal behaviors of gestures that are coordinated with speech so that it doesn’t feel like a robot or zombie.

Finally, Ross talks about the different cues for open vs. closed body language, the importance of mimicking for building rapport, and some of the ways that these techniques could be applied to provide a safe escape that’s fun and improves people’s lives. Stay tuned for more information about his company named Semio.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro – Ross studies Human-Robot interaction and presenting work on getting robots to use body language and understanding non-verbal communication that are the building blocks of social interaction like spacing, socially-appropriate eye gaze, gestures, using and understanding pointing behaviors, modulating it’s voices louder/softer, faster/slower, head nods, taking turns when communicating.
  • 1:12 – Applies to both robots and avatars. Robots are physically co-present NPC. Could be applied to virtual worlds to make characters more engaging. Working on making characters more engaging by using body language.
  • 2:04 – Eye gaze can feel weird if implemented in a way that feels natural. It broadcasts info, and tells others what you can observe & connected to privacy and the nature of the relationship. Continued eye contact means “I want to see more.” Too much eye contact violates the amount of intimacy that people are comfortable with. Will compensate by averting our gaze, can get more spacing, change frequency and duration of direct eye gazes or perhaps cross arms, or pacifier behavior of self-touching
  • 3:31 – Measuring psychological impact of implemented body language? Two ways. Use physiological measures like heart rate, galvanic skin responses, respiration rate, general activity and speed of motion. Can use psychological surveys with Likert scales. How intelligent NPC? Was it violating your personal space? Use these to figure out how people react to these
  • 4:43 – Top behaviors to implement with NPCs. Positioning is the first thing to get correct, and will be more engaging you adaptively use positioning. Secondly would be automating co-verbal behaviors of gestures that are coordinated with speech so that it’s not a robot or zombie. Eye gaze. Pointing. Immersive and engaging.
  • 6:26 – Pointing behaviors like pick “that” up or talk “her,” which is a referencing behavior that’s fundamental to human communication
  • 6:58 – Body language for engagement like a forward lean, increased eye contact, increased rate of speech. Opposite with the opposite like leaning back, attention if focused elsewhere. Can’t look at these in isolation, and look for combinations and clusters of behaviors because there’s other reasons
  • 8:12 – Open body language, not arms crossed and reveal front of the body. Open eyes, eyebrows up and a smile. Bitchy resting face when an idle pose scrunch up, and have to consciously counter this. Humans are broadcasting 24/7 and need to be aware of what you’re putting out.
  • 9:34 – Mimicking body language is a fundamental component to building rapport. USC’s ICT is looking at virtual humans.
  • 10:24 – These technologies will make our lives more fun. Seen as an outlet and relief to challenges we face during the day. Safe escape, but also if someone has a disability and want to improve their lives. Focusing in on helping people with special needs and make the world a better place.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Melissa Carrillo is the Director of New Media Technology for the Smithsonian Latino Center and the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum. She’s been a pioneer in using immersive technologies for the Smithsonian.

MELISSA-CARRILLOBecause the Smithsonian Latino Center does not have any physical spaces, then Melissa has had to embrace the digital revolution and start to challenge a lot of the traditional curatorial mindset of institutions like the Smithsonian. She’s been a pioneer in using virtual worlds environments like Second Life to hold virtual cultural heritage events like the Smithsonian Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

She talks about the keys for creating an open and collaborative environment with a virtual world, and how it’s more about creating a transmedia hub for all different types of media to be synthesized and shared in virtual spaces yet also shared back to the outside world through social media channels. She also goes into more details about all of the challenges that the faced along the way including what types of virtual world environments work the the best for cultivating community and sharing cultural identity. They fell into the pitfall that a lot of museum curators and educators do within VR by recreating buildings within virtual worlds that lecture at people and merely show 2D representations of the art within a 3D world.

Audiences want to be able to interact with the world, discover information that they find interesting, and be surprised and delighted through authentic experiences that are backed by curatorial scholarship and integrity.

Finally, Melissa talks about other initiatives where the Smithsonian is embracing the digital revolution, and how she sees the use of immersive technologies like virtual reality will be used by museums in the future.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro – Director of New Media Technology for the Smithsonian Lation Center. Use virtual worlds, gaming and simulations to reach out to audiences in a new way in order to communicate cultural identity. Smithsonian Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) events within Second Life. University of Texas in El Paso is their Second Life partner. They have a town square and cemetery environment that provide different cultural contexts for share cultural heritage experiences within a virtual world environment.
  • 2:05 – Second Life events. Important to have live programming and live streaming within Second Life to help recreate events within virtual worlds through collaborative outreach events. In virtual space, you’re able to create new experiences and not just replicate them.
  • 3:30 – Expressing cultural identity. It’s challenging to represent cultural heritage and identity as authentically as they can. Ensure authenticity the representation and presentation of artifacts, and have rigorous scholarship to do that from a cultural heritage perspective to preserve traditions. Make sure that it reflects the story that they’re trying to tell. It’s a collaboration with the participating community, and allowed the audience visitors to share stories and build altars
  • 6:10 – How to invite collaborators and hold space for that. It was challenging within Second Life since Smithsonian is used to being in complete control. Took a few years of experimentation, and need to figure out what they can and can not do. Used social media in coordination with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram to allow audience to share their Day of the Dead tattoos and food connected to that cultural event. Let audience build their own alters, and they share their creations via social media. Tell their story in one space and spread through the social media channels.
  • 9:35 – Creating rooms and spaces that work best for sharing cultural heritage within Second Life. Fell into the same pitfalls in creating spaces in virtual worlds. Creating building and rooms and creating 2D representations of art, and replicated a museum. The most successful part of their space was their town square and plaza because that’s where people meet and have events. Using Unity3D and looking outside of the box. Simulated an excavation site to get information and clues about the objects that you find where you’re free to explore and learn. You role play an archeology, and you get an immersive experience with different ways of experiencing the objects. Virtual museum is seen as a transmedia hub.
  • 13:00 – Key learnings from working in virtual spaces. The Smithsonian Institution found that people want authentic experiences. Need to be grounded in scholarship and maintain integrity of the work and accurately recreated in 3D space. All of the information that you interact with is coming from the curatorial team to ensure that it’s not being misrepresented and that audience can have an authentic experience.
  • 14:32 – Why do people like to be surprised. People don’t want to be talked down to and told the truth. They want to discover things on their own and have a sense of wonder and awe. Goes against what institutions are used to. Digital revolution put the power of discovery back into the hands of audience. Being to think strategic for what audiences want, and so look to social media to learn about that. Science museums have been creating interactive experiences like this for a long time. Audio tours are old way, create virtual experiences that are more interactive
  • 16:55 – Digital revolution have upset the power structure and previous paradigm of cultural institutions like the Smithsonian. It’s challenged the traditional curatorial practices and traditional storytelling practices. It’s all transformed and changed how they think creatively. A lot of different stakeholders at the table at the same time. Everyone can play a part of telling these stories in collaboration with the public. Virtualization and digitization has shattered the foundation of how these institutions do business and communicate tot heir audiences. Art and culture council want to share their lessons learned. How digital artifacts are used and the permissions around those are new challenges around access. How far is content made available made due to copyright limitations. Can then change, adapt and use it further. It challenges the traditional infrastructure of how these institutions have worked in the past. Audiences are demanding more access.
  • 21:05 – Saw the power of immersive technologies back in 2007. Smithsonian was trying to understand Facebook and how to deal with social media. What will 10 years look like? How about right now? Everything is shifting in 2007 and advocated embracing change. The Latino Smithsonian Center doesn’t have a physical space, and so social media and these virtual world technologies would be crucial for their mandate. Ran for the digital revolution on the underground for the longest time. Met Aaron in 2008 and saw that they needed to collaborate with other technology companies and innovators. Art and Culture summit need to be on the same page with how to tell stories and stay authentic. Audiences want surprise. Audience preferred to go to Wikipedia rather than Smithsonian website, and now collaborating with each other. How physical installations are exploding in virtual spaces.
  • 25:37 – Virtual worlds and creating spaces, and the female-perspective. Audiences use these video games. How they tell their stories, and don’t need to use violence. Need to ensure authenticity and create meaningful experiences and that they’re contributing to these stories. Rely and respond to what the audiences are asking for. Second Life had it’s own subculture and they can’t completely censor their presence from violence and all that happens there. Set security parameters, but can’t completely shield themselves. Need to act responsibility.
  • 28:48 – There’s so much potential. Don’t put it out all there. Balance for how it’s use. The opportunity is enormous. There’s a new layer of storytelling and experience. It’s augmenting that experience. Virtual gaming as a museum collection and embracing the digital revolution.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Bryan Carter has been using virtual worlds for education since 1997, and he talks about the lessons learned from his Virtual Harlem project to immerse students into the literature and music from the 1920s. He talks about some of the resistance that he received from his peers in Africana studies, and how his students are already immersed in technology and that using virtual worlds is a way to create more engaging and potent learning experiences.

Bryan-CarterHarlem in the 1920s was improvisational and edgy, and Bryan is attempting to recreate this feeling with his virtual recreation. It was one of the first extended recreated environments for African Americans and so it attracted role playing, entertainment, live performances, lectures, poetry slams, and DJ performances, and businesses, educators and a range of different classes being taught within Virtual Harlem.

He talks about diversifying his presence from Second Life to OpenSim as well as some of his future plans with Unity and experiencing Virtual Harlem within fully immersive virtual reality with the Oculus Rift.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro. African American literature of 20th Century and Digital Humanities. Virtual Harlem as existed by 1920s jazz age. Wanted students to experience some of the literature from the 1990
  • 1:05 – Started into VR in 1997. Some of the Silicon Graphics and CAVE technology used back then
  • 2:04 – Used Quake for lower-cost multi-player networking, then VRML, and then eventually Second Life
  • 2:54 – Virtual Harlem is focused on African American Life and culture. Attracted role playing, entertainment, live performances, lectures, poetry slams, and DJ performances, and businesses, educators and classes being taught. Then other platforms opened. Linden Labs briefly eliminated non-profit pricing, which
  • 4:05 – Educational lessons from Virtual Harlem. Have a short-term, medium-term, and long-term plan. How to teach in these environments. Other African American scholars have more of a wait-and-see mindset, and there’s a resistance towards things that new and technological, and to games and virtual worlds. Engagement and success will help convince others of it’s worth.
  • 6:27 – Bringing diversity to Second Life. Field of Africana studies came from activist roots, and some question why work with something that’s not real when there’s so much other “real” problems happening. Some don’t see relevance of virtual worlds. Perceived as a distraction, hobby or a toy.
  • 7:23 – Create an educational period piece and collaborating with businesses. Cities have diversity from education, commerce, entertainment and other media as well. OpenSim, Second Life and Unity.
  • 8:23 – Immersing people into the music of the time. Jazz was edgy and improvisational. Immerse them within the environment.
  • 9:23 – Be prepared for your technology to fail. There are different levels of Internet connectivity. You don’t have control over the entire ecosystem. Tech failures can frustrate students.
  • 10:32 – Change in discount pricing in Second Life. Migrating towards open source OpenSim version of Virtual Harlem. Funding is more difficult, but the community is in Second Life. Hopes to have a presence in a number of different diverse places.
  • 11:42 – Future of the metaverse. Working with Virtual World Web company, and they’re creating Curio. WebGL is also a possibility. Open communication channels up between these worlds.
  • 13:28 – Using fully immersive VR within Virtual Harlem.
  • 14:37 – Future of education with immersive technologies. Many new tools in this new toolkit, and they all need to work more seamlessly together and connect to these disparate worlds.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio