I dig into my interview backlog archive from April 2019 at F8 (a month before the Quest launch) to publish this conversation with Sonya Haskins, who shares her journey into VR through eSports and the Echo VR community. Haskins is a writer who published a couple of guest editorials on UploadVR starting in 2017 about how VR changed her perspective on gaming, and then a recent piece titled “Echo VR’s Loss Reverberates In Reality” reacting to the shut down announcement on the previous day. On January 31, Ready at Dawn announced that “after many discussions internally and with our partners at Meta, we have made the difficult decision to shut down Echo VR.”
Meta CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth explained in an Instagram AMA on February 2nd that “The user base is small. It’s loyal as all get-out, but it’s small. It’s measured in the low 10 thousands. And unfortunately keeping things alive takes work. This is not like a return on investment money standpoint, it’s just those resources could be put to other uses that I think will be useful to the now tens of millions of people who are in VR.”
Even though John Carmack is no long a consulting CTO for Meta, Carmack still shared some in-depth thoughts with UploadVR saying, “Even if there are only ten thousand active users, destroying that user value should be avoided if possible. Your company suffers more harm when you take away something dear to a user than you gain in benefit by providing something equally valuable to them or others. User value is my number one talking point by far, but “focus” is pretty high up there as well, and opportunity cost is a real thing.”
I wanted to share this archival interview that I did with Haskins in 2019 since she talks about her journey into VR through Echo VR (originally titled Echo Arena, but rebranded in 2018), reflects on what VR and eSports has meant to her, especially as she’s gone on over the past 3+ years to work within the XR industry as a key community organizer and she’s currently the Head of Programming for the Augmented World Expo. And the community of Echo VR players have a number of campaigns ongoing in their attempts to #SaveEchoVR.
This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.
[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. So on January 31st, 2023, the developers of Echo VR, Ready at Dawn, which was acquired by Meta, announced that they were shutting down Echo VR. The CTO of Meta, Andrew Bosworth, a.k.a. Bos, on a Ask Me Anything on Instagram on February 2nd, 2023, said, we knew that there was a small but dedicated, passionate community around this game, around the sport that you all love. And then he continues later saying, the user base is small. It's loyal as all get out, but it's small. It's measured in the low 10,000s. And unfortunately, keeping things alive takes work. This is not like a return on investment money standpoint. It's just one of those resources that could be put to other uses that I think will be useful to the now tens of millions of people in VR. So he's saying that the user base is in the tens of thousands of people, but they're trying to do investments that are going to be reaching the tens of millions. John Carmack actually disagreed with this. I mean, he used to be the consulting CTO. Now he's going off and doing his AGI full-time. no longer contracting as a consulting CTO, he wrote an extensive email to UploadVR with this statement, because he disagreed with this, and they published it on February 3rd. They said, even if there are only 10,000 active users, destroying that user value should be avoided if possible. Your company suffers more harm when you take away something dear to a user than you gain in benefit by providing something equally viable to them or others. User value is my number one talking point by far, but quote, focus is pretty high up there as well, and opportunity cost is a real thing. So there's a small passionate community that is really upset about this. And so as I was hearing about this, it reminded me that I actually did an interview with Sonny Haskins, who at the time, this was before the quest had even launched back in 2019. It was at F8. That was happening in April of 2019. And so she was there in an e-sports outfit. So she had competed with what originally launched as Echo Arena and she got her Rift at a Best Buy. Her son and husband at the time really encouraged her to try it out. She got it and it actually really transformed her life. So I did this interview with her in 2019. She's gone on to be really involved within the XR community. So on February 13th, 2022, she actually announced that she's the head of programming at the Augmented World Expo. So, she's continued to be a key player within the XR industry, but this is a conversation that I had when she was still starting to write about the eSports, just trying to promote what was happening within the context of her experiences within this Echo VR community. She did an editorial for Upload VR that was published on November 2nd, 2017 that said, How VR Changed My Perspective on Video Games. And then I want to just read a little excerpt from this editorial that she wrote on February 1st, 2023. That was after the shutdown announcement of EchoVR. She wrote, I guess, an editorial for UploadVR saying, EchoVR's loss reverberates in reality. So before we dive into the conversation that I had with her back in 2019, I just want to read this to give you a bit of an update, because there's lots of change since then. She says, My life changed drastically through Echo as I became a VR esports player, community expert, esports journalist, speaker, and outspoken advocate for VR. Away from my conservative roots, I made friends around the world, discovered new things about myself and others, and gained skills for a new career. However, these changes also had devastating consequences. Prejudice against technology is strong, and where I live women aren't supposed to step outside of their, quote, assigned roles. When I separated from my husband, I played Echo. When family and friends told me how wrong it was for a, quote, grown woman to work in tech, and instead suggested that I applied for work at the local grocery store, I played Echo. When I moved into a place with no flowers or indoor bathrooms, I paid for electricity and internet first, and I played Echo. A few months later, I put in floors and bathrooms and continued to build this home for myself. Echo has been my primary social outlet, physical activity, and therapy for nearly six years, and I'm not the only one. People have fallen in love, found careers, and made major life changes. There are teens who have played this game for one-third of their lives. Even adults who have had many more opportunities to experience life and realize that this game is only one part of their greater experience. The impact has been great, and that should be acknowledged. So I guess I wanted to dig into this first person account that I captured back in 2019 as I saw Sonia in her esports outfit. She was a little bit older woman compared to other people that I saw wearing the same outfits. And so I just wanted to capture her story and what she was up to. And so this was that conversation, but I wanted to give this broader context for why I'm doing this interview that I did. And now just for also to reflect in 2019, I went to 18 different events. That's on average, like an event every like three weeks or so. And so I recorded a lot of interviews in 2019. It was very busy. And then the pandemic happened. And then it's just sort of through my schedule of publishing all this stuff. I got all these interviews back from the past. But anyway, I just wanted to sort of take this blast from the past and contextualize not only the experience of playing Echo VR, but also a little bit of the backstory of Sonia's journey, who's now continued to be working with an XR industry. So, that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voice of VR Podcast. So, this interview with Sonja Haskins happened on April 31st, 2019 at the F8 conference in San Jose, California. So, with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:05:25.641] Sonya Haskins: So, my name is Sonja Haskins, but most of the players know me as Hasko7, and I write for vRespawn, and I also write articles for a few other places, including the ESL website with Oculus Sponsor VR League. Basically, I just cover VR esports and the players, the developers, the games, and what else is going on in the VR league.
[00:05:47.373] Kent Bye: Great. So maybe you could tell me a bit about your background and what your journey is into VR.
[00:05:53.114] Sonya Haskins: Well, that's kind of a story. So basically, I had never even heard of VR before April 2017. And my husband and my son talked me into trying it at a Best Buy. And I was like, that's the goofiest thing I ever heard of. And I tried it and thought it was the most awesome thing ever. And so we walked out of the store with a headset. I started playing every day. And then a few months later, I got into Echo Arena because it was released that summer. Absolutely loved it. Ended up joining a team and we played in the first season of ER League and my team was really good and so we made it to the Nationals here at San Jose and so we did okay but we got bumped out and it was a lot of fun though just to participate but I loved it so much that I wanted to help the league grow so then I started, my background is actually as a writer. I'm a professional writer so I've written magazines, newspaper articles and I've actually written eight books. And so a lot of people don't know I really am an actual writer. And so I just basically started promoting the league and writing articles and stuff to try to help it grow because I think it's important.
[00:06:57.337] Kent Bye: What kind of books did you write before?
[00:07:00.078] Sonya Haskins: So I've written six pictorial history books and two books about homeschooling.
[00:07:04.460] Kent Bye: I see. So what was it about VR that got you so excited about it as a medium?
[00:07:09.996] Sonya Haskins: I think it has a lot of potential for a lot of reasons. One thing was it was fun. It was helping me lose weight and get healthier. I was able to meet people outside of my normal social circles and also I'm a little bit older than the average player and I think that it gets harder to meet people and go out and do things and so with virtual reality you can do that without even leaving your house. And so that's really exciting and people need to realize like there's so many different things to VR like you have the fun aspect, the gaming aspect, but then you also have the fact that it's good for your health and it's an enjoyable activity and it's an educational opportunity because you can go and have training or you can take classes and you can travel to France for goodness sakes. I mean there's so many things you can do with VR that I think We have only touched the tip of the iceberg, and I really believe it's going to transform our society in so many positive ways. I mean, I literally could talk about it all day. I just love it.
[00:08:07.920] Kent Bye: Maybe you could talk a bit about where you're from, where you live, and what kind of cultural offerings are from where you live geographically, just compared to what you have access to now with VR.
[00:08:19.865] Sonya Haskins: Yeah, that's a great question. Basically, I live in a rural area in Tennessee, and so it's also a very conservative area, which is great. I mean, I'm conservative, but at the same time, sometimes you also can get mindsets that are maybe not as open-minded or you don't meet as many different types of people and things like that. And so I think one of the great things about VR is that you can live in a certain place and I live in the Appalachian Mountains basically and it's a beautiful place but a lot of people from there for example might never ever have the opportunity to travel or to meet people outside their normal social circles and things like that and VR allows that to happen. Like it actually doesn't just allow it, it encourages it. I mean it actually makes it possible to meet anybody from anywhere in the world and you don't just meet them like you would say on the internet with an internet reaction you actually get to know them as people and that's one of the things that's going to transform our world because if you get to know people on a human level one-to-one then I think that's going to take away a lot of hatred and misconceptions and judgment and things that we tend to as people put out there to begin with and we don't take the time to get to know the person behind whatever it is that we're judging and so it's a real step forward for mankind I think actually.
[00:09:47.055] Kent Bye: And so do you feel like that you're able to really get to know people as you're playing with them through these games? Or were you just kind of hanging out with them? Or maybe talk about the different ways that you're connecting and getting to know people.
[00:09:58.968] Sonya Haskins: That's really funny. I can tell you some very funny stories about that. But basically, when you meet people on the internet normally, like if it's a flat situation, you're chatting or talking or you see it visually, like say a video chat or something, you think that you know people. But the problem is you don't have the body language to go with that. And in human culture, body language is incredibly important because it probably tells you more than verbal language. And so when we get to know people in the games we play, like Echo VR is the game I play most. I love it. I love Echo Arena. And we have full body avatars. So you can see everything from your fingers. We literally have little tiny fingerprints on our little fingers. And we have arms and elbows and shoulders. And we have full bodies. So if you see somebody that maybe they shrug a certain way or maybe they aren't behaving exactly the same they normally do, you kind of pick up on their body language. So you can tell if they're happy or sad or angry or upset or they're leaving or whatever, you know. And so it's really great. But I think that those have created more in-depth relationships than we ever in a million years could have had just in a traditional online relationship. But even compared to In person relationships, like in a physical reality, not virtual reality, I kind of think that in some ways they're closer too because like with my friends in physical reality, maybe I get with them and maybe I'm honest with them because we're talking, but maybe people just don't feel free to be completely open because there's still that sense of you have to be careful or whatever. you know, by what you say or whatever. And in VR I think that people are very open and you tend to be more expressive because there's a little bit less inhibition there, but there's more reception, if that makes sense. So there's less inhibition of what people are saying because there's like an innate trust there, but at the same time you tend to develop closer relationships because you feel like you know each other. And so when I came to San Jose the first time, I actually was telling all my friends, they're like, where are you going? I said, I'm going out to Nationals to play a computer game with all my friends. They're like, are you talking about all those people you met online in VR? And I'm like, And they're just like, oh my gosh, you're going to go to California and get murdered. And so I was like, no, no, no, I know these people. Like I know them as well as you. And it was so funny because for them, it was a concept they totally couldn't understand because they could not believe that I could have made friends on the internet that I felt were just as close to relationships as the ones I had with them. And so it was great. And so now our VR friends, we meet at all these events. We go to events and see each other and stuff. And we're like, hey. And they're true, in-depth, wonderful, honest-to-goodness friendships.
[00:12:46.793] Kent Bye: Was that the first time that you had a chance to meet some of them face-to-face? Was at the Nationals last year at San Jose?
[00:12:52.056] Sonya Haskins: I was in the Nationals in 2017, so yes, that was the first time that I had met them in person. And then actually last year I went to Oculus Connect as well and met people again. And then I also drove to, last year my daughter was in the Air Force and so she was in Texas and we live in Tennessee. We drove across the U.S. and when I travel places, I try to do a couple of things. One thing is I try to visit Oculus demos just because, A, I start really missing my Rift when I'm away from home and I want to play VR. And the other reason is because I like to try the demos to see how the people are doing and see if they really know what they're doing and stuff, which I know sounds crazy, but I really want Oculus to grow and for VR in general to do well.
[00:13:38.743] Kent Bye: So these are the docents that are monitoring the demo stations? You want to kind of check in to see if they're doing their job?
[00:13:43.547] Sonya Haskins: Yeah, basically. So I'll go in and try all the different headsets and just see what they say about it. Because if they're really good, they'll be like, yeah, I play VR, and you can do this, or you can play this game, or you can have this experience. And if they're really bad, they're like, No, well, you can try this thing right here, and it's okay, but I don't really do it. You know, I mean, they don't know what they're talking about, and so I like to try different ones. And then, if they don't use it themselves, I'm always like, look, here's the thing. You need to either try VR and get used to it and love it, because you will, or really, I'm being honest to goodness, truthful with you here, you need to find a different job. You don't need to be doing this. So that's one thing. But I also have traveled about quite a bit and met friends that I've made in VR, in VR games. I've literally met them all the way from Tennessee to Texas to California, like going and having dinner with them and meeting them in their hometowns and stuff. And so it's really fun. It's just great.
[00:14:44.180] Kent Bye: Well, there's something about having a virtual reality experience where if you have that experience, then now all of a sudden you have this shared context for an experience. You're able to talk about what your experience was and listen to what other people's experience was. And so it creates this shared context that allows you to connect to people. And I just find that to be really powerful, especially if you're playing with people in a way that maybe you don't have a lot of opportunities in your life to play, especially with other people. And so you're playing, but there is not only that, but other narrative experiences are just like experiences that you can have. And then that becomes a point in which you can have conversations with people.
[00:15:17.028] Sonya Haskins: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's just like a team. If you're on a basketball team, you're going to develop a closer relationship with those people. And when you hang out with them, you're going to have experiences that you share that others don't. And so you're really going to grow closer because of that. even if you're not on the same team you're still having the same experiences or similar experiences in a game that you love and enjoy or even if let's say like you mentioned it's a single-player experiences but you're just talking about VR let's say different people enjoy Lone Echo that's a single-player game or you know if they just go and hang out in Google Earth or whatever it is they're doing single-player then you still have that camaraderie that you know you can go somewhere and do this awesome thing and so you can talk about it and share that experience and stuff. So I still think that it in some way just brings us together. I think definitely the multiplayer experiences definitely bring us together more as far as the social aspect and what we can experience together. But VR in general right now it's still small enough that people are so excited about it. It's just like probably the same experience whenever they first invented cars or something and you know you could go up to somebody else that had a car and if it was a rare thing be all excited that both of you have a car and it's the most wonderful thing because it gets you everywhere faster. You know I mean I guess there's something to be said for just really enjoying the experience that is UC is an awesome thing for the world, and everybody else just hasn't discovered it yet. And you're trying to tell everybody else, you know, you really got to try this. So it's really cool.
[00:16:58.214] Kent Bye: Had you played very many other video games before playing a lot of VR games?
[00:17:02.199] Sonya Haskins: Never.
[00:17:03.641] Kent Bye: Never at all?
[00:17:04.640] Sonya Haskins: No, never. I mean, I literally have one of those little square things with the stick on top, like where you can play... Like Atari or something?
[00:17:13.503] Kent Bye: Yeah.
[00:17:13.883] Sonya Haskins: Yeah, like that. And I guess maybe, I don't know, 15, 20, 25, I don't know, a long time ago, maybe I played Civilization a few times. And so basically the answer is no. When I was a kid, we had played Pac-Man at, like, you know, you go to the skating rink. So yes, you can tell. Make fun of me now. My experience with gaming is very limited. And so, whenever I started playing Echo, I really, really hadn't... Well, I had played the other VR games after I got my Rift in April, so I played The Climb, and I loved Robo Recall, because you get to rip the robots apart and stuff, and that's a lot of fun. But that was it. No, I never really played any games before and had never really done any gaming, so everything was new to me. And then I didn't know people played VR standing either, and I have health problems real bad, and so I'm doing better now, just from playing VR mostly, but I actually played seated. And so that was kind of a weird thing for everybody, and they had to get me a chair for nationals, which was real funny, but they were nice about it. I think that they're great to work with, and they really do try to be inclusive, like the developers are ready at dawn, and also the VR League people. They try to make sure that people have what they need to be able to be the best players or people they can be in VR while enjoying the experience and still making it where everybody can just fellowship and have a good time and enjoy the games.
[00:18:39.838] Kent Bye: So I'm curious to hear a little bit more about your family's reaction to this sudden turn from never playing any video games to all of a sudden you're playing VR every day and going to these world national competitions for some of these games.
[00:18:52.900] Sonya Haskins: Yeah, that's really kind of a funny question. I will say they're very supportive. They do like it because it's helped a lot with my health. And so, you know, the thing is when you've been in situations where you might lose your family, I mean, when I say I was sick, I was really sick. And so, I literally have had a few times where the doctors have just been surprised that I've made it through. And so, It's one of those things where I think they are real supportive of anything that I can do that makes me healthier and happier and I'm enjoying this time that we have here. I mean we all have a limited amount of time on earth. We will not be here forever. And people need to realize that you have to take care of your obligations. I love my family. I take care of my family, and they know that. But at the same time, I could be spending any of my free time sitting around, eating bonbons, watching TV, you know, doing nothing, hanging out with my friends. I choose instead to play VR, stay healthier, enjoy these games, and hang out with my friends still, because I hang out with them in VR. But it's just one of those things where I think they're just happy that I found something that gives me so much pleasure and makes me feel good physically as well. And, you know, life's too short. Don't spend it complaining. Like, people that just nag at their husbands or wives or their kids and stuff, we kind of take a unique approach to homeschooling the same way. Like, I really feel we need to make sure that people are able to use the gifts they have, not try to impose upon them things that aren't real. And so for our kids, we've tried to basically say, what are your gifts and talents? What are you interested in? And so then they pursue those interests and study things that apply to that, as opposed to us saying, well, you have to study this in order to do well on this particular test. We don't care how they do on a test because we don't give them tests. We're like, we want you to do well in life and doing well in life means that you succeed in whatever field you choose and you're happy with your choices. And so, you know, they kind of take the same approach with my VR gaming. They know that I'm loving it. They know I believe in it. They know I really want to help the industry grow. And so that's what I'm doing like every single day out there promoting it and writing about it and talking to people about it. And so I think that they're proud of me.
[00:21:18.471] Kent Bye: Well, yeah, you had mentioned that you're doing these profiles of these VR eSports players where you're actually like getting these profiles. So what is it about these people and these stories that you find so compelling that you want to dig in behind the personalities and the people that are playing these games?
[00:21:35.059] Sonya Haskins: Yeah, I'm so glad you asked that question, because I really love the players. Like, they're individuals, you know, they have talents, and they have lives, and it's just wonderful to me to meet these people and see how special and unique they are. These aren't people... I had a friend recently who kind of upset me a little, hurt my feelings, because she was saying that she had the impression that gamers, like a lot of people do, were just basically 30-year-olds living in their parents' basement. And so the thing of it is, I told her, I said, that's not true at all. I said, these people are well-educated, hardworking people. They have jobs. A lot of them are in college or have college degrees already. And when you really talk to the people, again, if you take away the judgment and get to know the people behind that, then I like to call it like behind the headset. You know, you can see their personalities and I can talk to doctors and software engineers and parents and people doing all these amazing things and working hard and coming into VR every day and finding the time to do that and doing something that they love and I just like to get to know them. I just think it's nice. They're wonderful people.
[00:22:45.073] Kent Bye: And is there anything that was announced here at F8 that you're excited about?
[00:22:48.075] Sonya Haskins: There were a few things I was really interested in, and basically the reason I came, it definitely wasn't the announcement as far as the date of when Quest and Rift S would be released, and so that was something we were all waiting for. But another friend of mine who also plays VR in the league, his name's Lemming, he and I were the two main players here, or the main people here, I don't really think there was anybody else that plays in the league that was here. We came to check out the Rift S and the Quest as far as the potential for being able to play VR esports on it without worrying about tracking issues and stuff because both of them are the, you know, the inside-out tracking there where you have to We wanted to make sure that if you had your hands behind you or if you moved very quickly, like on Beat Saber and stuff, if you could still be able to have appropriate tracking. And yeah, I was very pleased with both of the devices. I can't wait to play them. And we're very, very excited to see what the League has in Season 4.
[00:23:48.330] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of VR is? And what am I able to enable?
[00:23:56.272] Sonya Haskins: I think that VR is going to change society. The potential, I believe that it has potential in every single field. I mean, just to give you an example, I was talking with a lady here about she had created a program that could help teach hairdressers how to cut hair better so they could practice on virtual avatars, for example, instead of a real person. And so when you think of types of training or things that you can use to teach people dangerous things like firefighters and stuff where you're in emergency situations and you need to practice those situations or bomb defusal, you know, stuff like that, VR can be used for all those things. It can be safer. It can be cheaper. it can be faster, it's more accessible and that's another thing too with accessibility people don't talk about a lot but VR can be used by anybody. We typically people will even try to tell me oh no this is for standing this is a standing experience or whatever which absolutely drives me insane. It's one thing that they do that drives me crazy at Facebook because they never have chairs and I've told them this and One day they're going to hear it enough and be like, oh, OK, maybe we should have a chair. Because the experiences do not have to be standing experiences. And some people, not everybody, is healthy and can stand up for long periods. And so that's another thing. It's accessible to anybody. And so all these people seeing these commercials and stuff with people jumping around and doing all that, that's awesome and it's great. That's going to be the typical user. But the thing is, VR can be used by your 90-year-old grandmother just the same as a healthy 15-year-old young man or woman. So it's really awesome. I just think it's going to change our society and make it better for everybody. And it's going to level the playing field in regards to how we approach other humans, other people, And also as far as how we're able to approach gaming and business, like interviews, you know, everything. It's really awesome.
[00:25:46.678] Kent Bye: Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much.
[00:25:48.420] Sonya Haskins: Thank you very much for having me on your show.
[00:25:51.323] Kent Bye: So that was Sonja Haskins. At the time, she was an Echo VR player, a writer, and involved with the community. Now, she actually is the head of programming at Augmented World Expo and has continued to be working in the XR industry. And yeah, just wanted to get a little bit of a slice of her journey into XR, because I think it's clearly had a huge impact on her life. And I wanted to get some of this perspective, because as she says in her editorial that she wrote for Upload VR, that this is something that really changed her life and it's something that she continues to be involved with in that community. So I think there is this question that, well, Meta has acquired all these games. If they had not acquired it, it's very possible that the existing business model that even Ready at Dawn had chosen to do, they would have had to shut it down. They chose to make it a free-to-play game at some point because of this Meta acquisition, and then as Meta has acquired all these things and they have their own priorities, then it very well could have been possible that this would have been shut down long ago had Meta not acquired it. That's a hard decision for me to know. However, John Carmack does have this point where he's disagreeing and He's trying to optimize that user value and I think there's probably a lot of other things that Carmack has been Arguing for in terms of like to prevent these types of things that for him it pains him to see That's so much of the cultural heritage of VR. It's just obliterated because it doesn't make sense for meta tech financially makes sense of that so you have like the early history of VR, like Oculus Share as an example, they just kind of like erased all these early apps off of the face of the internet. And there's some people that have archives of them. But again, there's other things like Oculus Go apps, and, you know, the internet archive exists because it's trying to preserve the cultural history. And if there wasn't the internet archive, there's so much stuff that happens on the internet that's just so ephemeral that comes and goes. And so just the same, there's these digital technologies with VR that if we don't think about how to actually preserve this cultural heritage, then all of a sudden we're not going to have any history to look back on, no way to access it. I mean, there's open standards like OpenXR, there's ways to open source it. You know, Baz's point is that it takes an incredible amount of money to try to open source things. And, you know, I think Carmack says in his email that he had really pushed and advocated for things like that to happen with Oculus Go. So they've kind of gone through this already of like, hey, there's these platforms that are going to be going away, entire platforms like Oculus Go. How can we start to preserve it? And there's certain ways that Carmack's even like reflecting on it. Well, maybe That wasn't the best use of resources. So it does take effort and energy to do that. But Carmack's points, he goes through all sorts of different ways they could handle this. He said that, you know, they paid one person that whose sole job was to keep this up and running. And so there are potential ways to keep that user value going. There's this aspirational aspect that, you know, Boz is talking about. They want to reach tens of millions of people, but yet they're taking these communities that are extremely passionate and, making this trade off. He's saying it's not an issue of resources, but it's an issue of money and resources. It's human capital, but you know, you can pay people. So it does actually come down to money. And they're trying to like bootstrap an entire industry and the lack of diversity with other people doing things means that there's a lot of weight that gets put onto met his shoulders to make these types of decisions. So, like I said, even if Ready at Dawn wasn't acquired, this may have already organically happened. But because there's a subsidy and metas trying to shepherd the VR community forward, then these different types of decisions have to be made. So, anyway, that's sort of my take on it. I'll give some links to some of the different things that you can check out yourself. It's well worth reading through all the different CarMax points because there are different things of like thinking about how to make things that you don't run into the situation again and again. This is a bit of a symptom of a larger issue of not architecting things in a way that can exist outside of the context of these wild gardens. And it is a sort of open versus closed question. There are different trade-offs that have to be made and often it's more efficient to do a closed wall garden and sometimes even arguably better to have something that is a vertically integrated system rather than trying to abstract and generalize out something into more of an open context. But as we move forward, some of these things are still going to need to be figured out. And I think now that Carmack is no longer a consulting CTO, Boz has said that he's got this whole phrase of, what would John Carmack do? And so he's trying to create this mental model of what Carmack would think. But yet, without that voice of really advocating for those values, then it ends up being a proxy of this mental model rather than someone who's actually there advocating for these perspectives. I can imagine that Carmack was trying to say all these things over time, but his perspective wasn't prioritized in terms of how to go about this in terms of building all these things for virtual reality. So anyway, I wanted to cover that and dig into this archival interview and discuss this a little bit, since it's certainly lots of different passionate users within the Echo VR community that are wanting to keep this alive. And I think there's still hope that there may be some solution, whether it's to spin it out or whatever it ends up being. Carmack lists a lot of the architectures that are possible. but there seems to be a very utilitarian argument from Meta, which is their argument that this is going to be better for the larger number of people, but that's more speculative that there's going to be these larger people. There are these communities that do exist. So anyway, Echo VR is shutting down, Altspace VR is announced that they're going to be shutting down, that's part of Microsoft, and other esports like Nerf VR is shutting down. I wanted to just cover some of those and reflect on that a little bit. And you can look into the show notes for links to get more information to this whole timeline. So that's all I have for today. I just want to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a list of support podcast, and I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue bringing this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.