#498: Keys of Owlchemy Labs’ Success: Agency & Plausibility + What is Real?

Cy_WiseOwlchemy Labs recently announced that Job Simulator has grossed over $3 million, and so it’s worth reflecting on some of the design principles of agency and plausibility that have proven to be some of the key affordances of the virtual reality medium. I had a chance to talk to Owlchemy Labs’ Cy Wise at PAX West where she shared with me some guiding principles for Job Simulator as well as some of the more existential reactions from users questioning the nature o reality.


Wise says that one of the key design principles of Job Simulator was to make sure that everything was interactive. Their goal was to not make it feel like a game, but rather that people would get so lost in the plausible interactions that they’d be able to achieve a deep sense of presence. She cites the example of making tea in that they had to account for the dozens of different ways that people make their tea in order to maintain that level of plausibility that they’ve created in their virtual world. If it’s not intuitive, then the rules and constrictions of the simulation make it feel like a game rather than just executing a task given the affordances of the environment match their expectations of how it should behave.

This reflects what Kimberly Voll recently said about having a fidelity contract where affordances match the user’s expectations. It also seems to validate Mel Slater’s theory of presence with the Place Illusion and Plausibility or what Richard Skarbez would describe as immersion and coherence.

Designing for agency and plausibility has been a key theme in my previous interviews with Owlchemy Labs’ Alex Schwartz from GDC 2015, Vision Summit 2016, and PAX West 2016.

Owlchemy Labs was able to do such a good job at creating a sense of presence in people that Wise said that it would often create a bit of an existential crisis since it blurred their boundaries of reality. VR developers talk about this as the sense of presence in VR, but there isn’t a common language for people who are having a direct experience of VR presence for the first time.

Wise asks, “How do you talk about the “not real” real? Or how do you talk about the imaginary real life?” And that if people were able to have a direct lived experiences within a virtual simulation, and it felt completely real, then it begs the question of whether or not we’re already living in a simulation. The Atlantic did a profile on people who experienced a post-VR existential crisis that made them question whether actual reality is real or not.

Hassan Karaouni recently told me that if we’re not already in a simulation, then we’re most certainly going to create virtual realities that are indistinguishable for reality that will have intelligent agents within these simulations who will be asking these exact same questions.

Wise has explored the line of thinking of “How far deep do the layers of inception go?” many times, and I’ve also started to have more conversations with people in the VR community about simulation theory and it’s implications.

Wise has been on the front-lines of having these types of interactions with users of experiences from Owlchemy Labs, and it’s only natural that these types of VR experiences start to make people question the balance between fate and free will in their lives as VR experiences enable new expressions of our agency in what could be classified as an “Erlebnis” direct experience within an incepted virtual reality.

VR is starting to give us more and more experiences that are impossible to have in reality, and our memories of these experiences can be just as vivid as “real life” experiences, which further blurs the line between the “virtual” and “real.” The long-term implications of this are still unclear, but what is clear is that Owlchemy Labs has been focused on the principles of Plausibility and Agency, which mirrors what OSSIC CEO Jason Riggs recently declared that the future is going to be Immersive and Interactive.

If we are in a simulation, then it’s possible that we may never be able to reach base reality. As we continue to experience simulations that are more and more indistinguishable from reality, then perhaps the best that we can do is to strive to reach the deepest sense of presence at each layer of inception that we discover.

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Music: Fatality & Summer Trip

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. My name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So Alchemy Labs announced recently that Job Simulator, their title that's released on both the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and the PlayStation VR, has crossed over $3 million in revenue so far. And so it's one of the most successful virtual reality experiences that have been released. And so I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at some of the principles that they're using. I actually had an opportunity to interview Cy Wise, who is one of the Owlmancers at Alchemy Labs, where she does a lot of the media events and community and what she calls peopling at people. But Sai is a virtual reality enthusiast that goes all the way back to the DK1 days, and she's been able to demo Job Simulator to a lot of different people over the last couple of years. And at PAX West, they're actually demonstrating their latest virtual reality experience, which was the Rick and Morty simulator, which was based upon the engine of Job Simulator. So they're essentially taking this highly interactive and dynamic environment and being able to put a narrative with it. But I had a chance to talk to Sai about agency within VR and some of the key components of creating a plausible virtual reality experience and what makes a fun game within virtual reality. is not necessarily thinking that it's a game. It just feels like it's plausible and you're just doing the thing that you know that you can do, given the affordances of the situation. So that's what we're going to be talking about on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. But first, a quick word from our sponsor. Today's episode is brought to you by the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference and Expo. SVVR is the can't miss virtual reality event of the year. It brings together the full diversity of the virtual reality ecosystem. And I often tell people if they can only go to one VR conference, then be sure to make it SVVR. You'll just have a ton of networking opportunities and a huge expo floor that shows a wide range of all the different VR industries. SVVR 2017 is happening March 29th to 31st. So go to VRExpo.com to sign up today. So this interview with Sai happened at PAX West that was happening in Seattle from September 2nd to 5th, 2016. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:37.606] Cy Wise: So my name is Sai Wise. I actually work at Alchemy Labs. I'm the Owlmancer there, which basically means that I do all of the media and events and community and the peopling at people. I people at people. So I first got into VR way back during the Oculus Kickstarter. My husband and I had heard about the Oculus Kickstarter and it was immediately something that we knew we had to be a part of. So we threw all of the money we had at it. I think we were like the first day it came out we just sort of jumped on it and since then I have been obsessed and enthusiast about VR because we had to be a part of the future.

[00:03:10.927] Kent Bye: Great so tell me a bit about you know going through the Oculus Rift DK1 and DK2 days and then you know how you eventually ended up at Alchemy.

[00:03:18.609] Cy Wise: So Oculus DK1 came out and immediately threw my face into it. I did the Tuscany demo because everyone did the Tuscany demo. I went up the stairs and it wrecked my world but I pushed through because it was worth it. Like this was the thing we had hoped for and it was one of those experiences for me that was just the coalescing of all of those dreams that you had as a child, you know, watching Star Trek and thinking about what the future could be and reading Neuromancer and now is here on my face. So that was sort of the moment I decided this is a thing that I needed to be a part of forever and the rest of my life. I actually went back to school, studied sociology and communications with a focus on how people actually interact with emergent technologies and how they form communities and how they communicate using these emergent technologies and I came out I knew Alex for a couple years. We nerded out about things often, often. And then when he had a position open at Alchemy Labs to come in and do media and PR and events and really helping get the word out more about VR and be an active member of the community, he brought me in to help him out with that stuff.

[00:04:24.081] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's interesting that you got into studying sociology and humanity's relationship to technology because of virtual reality. And one of the things that I really enjoy about VR is that the more I study VR, the more that I'm actually learning about humanity and our cognitive, mental structures, our perception, and many different dimensions of being present in both VR but also in real life. And so what were some of the big takeaways that you had from going back to school to study the sociological impacts of technology?

[00:04:53.430] Cy Wise: Well, going back to school, you sort of, I mean, I knew this was going to happen when I went back to school, so because academic is such a slow-moving boat, I knew that I was going to be able to take a lot of these precepts from sociology, but we were going to basically be on the ground figuring them out ourselves, just like VR. So what's most interesting to me is the fact that we are in VR, we are recreating realities. And so we have to actually look at those small pieces of reality and what our brains recognize as clues to being real. And we sort of pick those apart and then recreate them and put them into VR. That's one of the most interesting things. Another one of the things that I find really fascinating is how social an experience VR is. People, you know, seem to come together to, like, share these experiences in groups. They talk about it a lot, but these VR parties that sort of happen around where everyone comes together to sort of experience this together, it becomes almost a tribe-like experience where people, you know, come together and they all sort of go through the world or go through the experience and have that shared moment together separately.

[00:05:55.068] Kent Bye: Yeah, so you mentioned that you're really interested in looking at agency. And I know that Alchemy Labs is, I think, one of the leading virtual reality developers really exploring the limits and extent of how to use willful presence within VR. And so maybe you could talk about some of your thoughts on both agency and presence.

[00:06:13.896] Cy Wise: So agency is one of these facets that you really need and we found that we really need in VR to really convey that sense of presence. We found that having agency is one of those clues that your brain kicks in and says, oh my god, this is reality. This is actually happening. So what we tend to do for us at Alchemy Labs is that we do everything we possibly can to make sure that every single thing is interactive. Everything has to have a reaction. If you reach for something and it doesn't do anything, it doesn't react, it immediately takes you out of the experience, immediately reminds you that you're in a world within a world. So we specifically do everything we can to make sure that everything has a reaction. So this often involves a lot of playtesters, often involves bringing in friends and family and people that we find on the street. Have you ever played VR? You've never played VR? We're going to get you in here. And we get them in there to play with everything that's available and you know in Job Simulator and in Rick and Morty we have a ton of items that you know you can interact with and grab and manipulate and throw and toss and combine and so that's important that every single one of those has that reaction. The other thing that's really interesting is that we find that different people, depending on their background, depending on their upbringing, depending on a whole host of myriad of factors all relating to how they conceive of the world, interact with those spaces very differently. So one of my favorite stories is making tea in Job Simulator. You go in the kitchen, there's a task where you have to make tea. There's a British bot who comes up and says, I would like tea and crumpets. And it's interesting because everybody makes tea a different way. Like, when you think of making tea, I have a path in my head of how that goes. I heat up water. I put the tea bag in the coffee cup. I pour the water. into the teacup. I steep for four minutes, I add milk. But I noticed as we were getting people in, they might pour milk into the cup first. Or they might put the teabag in the teapot and boil the teabag in the teapot with the water boiling. And these are all things that we have to make sure works in VR because that's immediately going to take you out of the experience. If the way you know how to make tea does not work to make tea. You're immediately going to start thinking about it as a game. You're going to start thinking about like, oh, well, I have to do things in the right order of operations in order to make it happen, as opposed to, here I am in this world making tea, just doing things. And that adds to the immersiveness. It really solidifies it. And that's what, as far as active immersion goes, that's what you need to have in order to maintain that sense of presence and that sense of reality in virtual reality.

[00:08:40.955] Kent Bye: Yeah, and you had mentioned that when you first started at Alchemy Labs, you got your first access to the HTC Vive, and so maybe you could talk a bit about your experiences of being able to kind of dive into room-scale VR.

[00:08:51.875] Cy Wise: So, of course, I'd done VR before because I'd had the DK1, but that was basically where my experience ended. I'd had the DK1, I had played with the DK2. I was working for Gunfire Games for a while, so I had actually had experience to at least positional head tracking. But I played with an Xbox One controller because that's how that game is navigated. The first time I actually went over for, it was in my interview, I went in, they're like, okay, you're going to put on this headset. I did, and I've seen so many people do this. And every time I see them do it, I remember this feeling. The first time you put on the headset, you immediately just look around and you're in that space, just the compositor. You're in the white space. I've never been so, the Matrix makes much more sense to me in the white space because it's a whole entirely white space with like no edges. There's nothing there, but it feels real. And then the next thing I did is looked at my hands and I didn't have hands, I had controllers. From that point on, I had to try every single possible experience. I needed to know how all these things could feel this way. How could a white room with nothing in it feel fascinating and, you know, bring the sense of awe. So I went through every single game that was possibly available. Alex and the people at Alchemy Labs, team at Alchemy Labs, has a great relationship with other developers. We're all friends and we share knowledge and we will share early demos and we'll look at each other's stuff and we'll help each other out. So I went through every single demo that I could get my hands on and it was those first days and it never stopped. Like the sense of wonder is still there. That's what's so interesting to me is I still get into games and I have to stand there and I have to just absorb the sense of presence and look at my hands.

[00:10:32.047] Kent Bye: For you, what are some of the most memorable moments or stories of where you felt that sense of awe or presence?

[00:10:39.218] Cy Wise: I remember playing, actually, Call of the Starseed, the gallery, was definitely, especially being on the beach, like that was definitely a feeling of, I grew up on beaches, like I grew up on the North Shore in Massachusetts, so that rocky sort of beach with the really cold, really intense water is something that I am very familiar with, so definitely being there and seeing that and hearing it definitely took me to that space. Tilt Brush was a huge one for me. I took the plasma palette and started painting with light. And that, for me, was an experience that I will never be able to have in the real world. Out in this space, you can never actually paint with light. You can make photographic images that capture light going across, but you'll never actually paint with light in the same way. And I realized that VR is going to give you the ability to have experiences that are fundamentally not possible to do in the real world. but have them. And what does that mean when you have actual experiences that are real that you experience that are virtual? Like, what meaning does that have? And essentially, it is indistinguishable from real life, so it is real life.

[00:11:46.907] Kent Bye: So what type of experiences do you want to have in VR then?

[00:11:50.298] Cy Wise: What sort of experiences do I want to have in VR? I'm actually really interested in a lot of multi-user, multi-presence VR. That's what I really like to see. I spend way too much time in Alt Space VR and Rec Room. These are some of my favorite spaces to play because it sort of does all of the interesting things about being social and how people are social together in VR while also being in a virtual space and the emergent games that sort of just happen when you just have a series of objects and a bunch of people in this world that is not quite real but very real. That is what I like to see more of. That is what I want to see more of. Giving people the ability to make their own games, make their own understanding of the world and kind of craft their own

[00:12:33.938] Kent Bye: Sets of rules within these worlds like that's what I'm very interested in Yeah, you had mentioned that there's a social component looking at the sociological impact of these emerging technologies How people are coming together and sharing VR experiences? What have you found in your own life in terms of either bringing people? Physically co-located together to have like VR parties or your own personal experiences within social VR. I

[00:12:57.155] Cy Wise: So my house is basically a constant VR social party now, 100% of the time. If people come over to my house, they're going to get in VR because they don't have access to it, so if they've never experienced it, they don't know what I'm doing with 100% of my life, so they'd like to know what that is. So they end up getting into VR, and then it ends up being a conversation of, oh my God, you have to try this, or oh my God, this was amazing, or can you see what I'm doing? I hear that a lot. Can you see what I'm doing? Can you see what just happened? Can you see what I'm doing? So that happens quite a bit. I'm always having parties at my house. The thing that's actually difficult for me now is that when these people leave, they don't have a Vive at home. And so I would like to continue the party with them in separate spaces, which, you know, eventually everyone will have a Vive, or an Oculus, or some VR headset where we can all connect. It's going to be amazing. But in terms of, like, my own personal experiences of what I've seen, there are definitely a lot of similarities to how people experience VR their first time. And in terms of, like, almost 100% of people look at their hands. They immediately have to identify where their body is and what their body means in this space. And when they come out, we talk about those sorts of things. Like, I noticed that you did this. I also did this thing. And then they watch as the next person gets in, and maybe they introduce their friends and family into it. and they continue this conversation. So it ends up being this growing social tribal community about these, it's almost a ritualistic sort of aspect. You go in, you look around the world, and you look at your hands. And that becomes like sort of the intro to everything. And it's actually the intro that I do now with a lot of people when I show them VR, involves a sort of acknowledgement of your body in VR. And I think that really makes people really identify not with I am a character in this game or I'm experiencing this game. It really centers them as I personally am having this experience.

[00:14:42.232] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's interesting because I know that Tashka Unseld from Oculus Story Studio has talked about when you go see a movie in a movie theater, there's a whole ritual that you go through in terms of sitting down, the lights are still up, and then you start to see trailers, and then slowly the lights start to go down, and then you see the marquee of all the film studios, and then the music plays, and then the story starts, and so you're kind of Prime to get into story mode where you're kind of slowly suspending your disbelief and I feel like some of those Rituals within virtual reality are still emerging but it sounds like you're saying a key component is to have this correlation between the Virtual presence being able to correlate to have a sense of embodiment that you're perhaps some of your activities are going to have an impact onto the world so establishing that you have willful agency and If there's other people, then establishing that there are real actual people and not artificial intelligent bots to establish a sense of social presence. And yeah, if there's any sort of emotional component or empathy or flow, I think there's a sense of, especially with a lot of the Alchemy Labs experiences where people kind of get lost of track of time and really get into the flow state. But yet, I think that there's going to be different genres, I think, that are still going to be emerging within VR that are still going to be kind of different combinations of those different types of presence and different types of games. But yet, we still are learning kind of the basics of what the VR medium can do universally and what is kind of unique to each genre before we can really know what the appropriate ritual would be for each specific sub-genre.

[00:16:16.702] Cy Wise: Absolutely and I can't even, there are going to be genres of games that we haven't even conceived of yet and they will work only because of VR and they will be created because of VR and that is sort of one of the things that I'm really looking forward to is sort of what new things do we create that are only possible because of this new technological medium.

[00:16:35.470] Kent Bye: So you've been going to a lot of different conferences and giving people their first time demos. I'm just kind of curious to hear some of your reactions from being kind of on the front lines of showing a lot of people their first VR experiences.

[00:16:48.206] Cy Wise: Oh, no, absolutely. We do a lot of VR experiences and demos because for a lot of people that's the only way for them to truly understand what VR is and a lot of them don't have access to it otherwise. So some of the things that, from being on the front lines, that I've noticed is that a lot of people, again, they go through the ritualistic, looking around in awe, looking at their hands, finding their sense of presence. but also a lot of times when they come out they almost have this range of emotions like they go through several different emotions like you have the people come out who are screaming that was amazing I can't believe that just happened and there was this thing that happened and this was real and this person did this and I did this thing and and they get really excited over what just happened, then you have some people who come out and they look almost, you almost want to have them sit down on a couch and sort of walk them back. Like, they almost have this experience where, like, their whole world has changed and you almost want to sit down with them and be like, hey, talk to me. What happened? How are you feeling? And you'll talk to them and they'll talk about, and they struggle to find the words, and this is something that's actually in the VR community entirely, is we have words like presence, but we don't have the words to talk about a lot of these experiences that we're having. How do you talk about the not real real? Like how do you talk about the imaginary real life? And sometimes you end up talking with them and they'll come out of their shell and start talking about and struggle to talk about and then talk about like sort of that whole experience of it being real and they knew it was real but it also wasn't real and then they forgot that they remembered that it wasn't real and they'll have these conversations about it. So I've never had an experience where someone comes out and they go, meh, that is universally the only response I've never had. It's just a very like, meh, so that happened, so.

[00:18:30.764] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that there's something really interesting when you go into VR and you kind of have your entire paradigm shifted in terms of showing you something that you never imagined could be real but your perceptual system is kind of believing that it's real on a certain level. You know, I had this altered state experience where I had gotten really high and then I was coming down from being high and When I was coming back, though, I kind of had this, like, felt like I was breaking into more and more deeper levels of reality. And I found myself brushing my teeth, and I thought to myself, you know, I could be, like, this soul avatar having, like, a job simulator at life. And my entire lifetime could be just a blink of an eye from the context of this soul, just like somebody going into a job simulator and playing, like, a short little experience. It started to make me really question the whole fundamental nature of reality. And if my sense of perception can be tricked that easily with synthetic technology, then what's to prevent me from already living within a simulation right now? And how deep does the levels of inception and simulation theory go?

[00:19:36.842] Cy Wise: I have absolutely had that exact same series of thoughts, just sort of with this idea of like, if a perfect simulation is indistinguishable from reality, who's to say that I'm not living that right now, and I'm doing a meta simulation within a simulation every time I do VR? What if every time I go to sleep, I'm actually logging out for the night, but then I come back into the simulation in the morning, and like, you can just start questioning everything. Oh, it's so much fun to think about, though, and the possibilities of what that could mean.

[00:20:05.107] Kent Bye: Yeah, when you talk about some of that stunned awe with some of these people, I imagine that even if they're not explicitly having those thoughts, it's kind of like bubbling up. You know, do you guys have kind of an internal term for what that state of confusion or awe or paradigm shifting might be?

[00:20:20.930] Cy Wise: Oh God, no, not yet, but I bet Alex will come up with it and it'll be pun based.

[00:20:26.492] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you see as kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality and what it might be able to enable?

[00:20:33.601] Cy Wise: Oh, the ultimate, that is such a great question, because we're sort of still, so technology's always evolving, and that's something that I always have my eye on, that where we are now is not the end-all, be-all of virtual reality. It's going to get better. It's going to be untethered. It's going to be more realistic. It's going to be, we'll have a broader range. We're going to figure out how to solve a lot of these problems that we have, like, for example, moving around in a space, and, you know, how to get extra range doing that in virtual worlds. So, you know, ultimately, I'm confident that VR is going to be a ubiquitous item in everyone's home. Everyone will have their own personal holodeck. It's going to happen. But it's going to be the sort of thing that, like the cell phone, it's going to be something that ends up being part of our everyday life. It's going to move from entertainment to actual tool or appliance in that it's a thing we're going to end up using constantly, you know, for meetings, for phone calls, for travel, for visits, for research, for training, for everything. But that's the way in the future, and I'm looking forward to it.

[00:21:32.925] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, thank you so much.

[00:21:34.367] Cy Wise: Thank you so much for having me. This was a lot of fun.

[00:21:37.231] Kent Bye: So that was Cy Wise. She's an Owlmancer at Alchemy Labs, where she works on media, events, community, and peopling at people. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, I think that agency within a virtual reality experience is probably one of the key components of some of the unique affordances of virtual reality. I was just reading the book Hamlet on the Holodeck, which was written back in 1997 and looking at all the different multimedia types of technologies and how that was impacting narrative. And so Janet Murray's really comparing this interactive multimedia that's enabled by computer technologies and really comparing it to the previous mediums of film and books and everything that came before that. And one of the things that she's really identifying is that there's a lot of unique properties of immersion and interactivity that comes with computer technologies. And she actually breaks it down into two additional components, which is the procedural and participatory nature of being immersed within an experience and that Procedure is all the different rules that are automatically generated that are dictating how you can actually interact with an environment. And that participatory nature is your expression of the agency within that context. And the interactive component is that you're in a spatial environment and that spatial environment has an almost encyclopedic ability to be able to reference all sorts of other different types of information. But specifically in virtual reality, I think you could look at Mel Slater's conceptualization of presence and you can see the place illusion and the plausibility illusion. The place illusion is really talking about that spatial and encyclopedic dimension of that interactive environment that you're actually transported to this other place. And that plausibility illusion dimension of that goes to how convincing that world is you being able to participate in it and actually make sense and you don't have to actually question the rules of the game. And that's one of the things that Sai was talking about, what she was really noticing within people experiencing Job Simulator is that if it's done right, you don't actually think of it as a game. She gave the example of creating tea and that people just want to be able to create tea how you create tea. And there's a wide variety of different ways that people make tea. And the developers at Alchemy Labs had to support all the many different ways that people could make a cup of tea, which meant that in the end, that people don't have to think about it. They just do what they would naturally do. And the more that you do that, the more plausible it is, and the more that you forget that you're within this contrived synthetic environment that's simulated, and the more that it just tricks your mind that you're in another world. And that deep sense of immersion and presence, I think, is what Alchemy Labs, probably more than any other virtual reality game development studio, has really tried to focus in and dial in and really cultivate that deep sense of presence in that way. And I think that's a big reason why they've been so successful so far. And so Sai said that they had to just make sure that everything had a reaction that people were expecting. And that level of matching the responsiveness of the environment with matching what people's expectations would be is that core component of plausibility, which is creating that deep, deep sense of presence. Now, she gets into some of the interesting side effects of that, which is that you're essentially going into this synthetic environment and having these real experiences within this fake world. And so she is saying that there's not a lot of really great language to talk about, you know, how do you talk about the not real real? Or how do you talk about the imaginary real life? And this is something that I really dove into, into episode 476, where we're looking at the two different words for experience in German, which is Erfahrung, which is the process of creating a memory from things that you experience directly, but there's a time dimension, so it's something that you're recalling that you've experienced. Erlebnis, which is the other word for experience in German, is more about the direct experience. This is something that is unique, and maybe you only have once, and it's something that is really blazing new neural pathways, or it's shocking or surprising to the point where you're really remembering it. And so what's it mean to have an erlebnist type of direct experience within a synthetic environment? That's where you start to think about, well, do we need a third term to really describe that? And maybe that third term is kind of like incepted reality, where you're in this reality, but it's not real reality, but it is convincing enough to you to trick your mind into believing that you're actually there. And there seemed to be like this reaction of people going through this existential crisis of being tricked and fooled so much that Sai was saying that sometimes you just had to kind of sit some of these people down and really talk about some of the larger implications of their conceptualization of reality. If people are able to be tricked in such a convincing way, then it makes them question as to whether or not we are actually in the base reality already or whether or not we're living in this simulation. This is a topic that I've been just hearing more and more for different people who are working within the virtual reality field, because I think what they're seeing is that we're on this trajectory towards creating these visual fidelity and these interactions within these virtual reality environments that are going to be more and more indistinguishable from reality. And so if that's the track that we're on, then have we already achieved that? And are we in a virtual reality experience already? And I think these are some of the deep existential questions that have no clear singular answer, but as something that I've covered before with Chris Miranda, diving deep into the rabbit hole back in episode 385, and also talked about it in my episode with Hassan Karouni back in episode 479, where I think the bottom line of this simulation theory is how people think about the relationship between fate and free will and how much of your world is fated and how much you have free will and agency to be able to create your own self-determined future. And I think it's always actually a kind of a mix between that fate and free will. And so when people go into a virtual reality experience, it starts to, I think, challenge the balance between fate and free will in a lot of people's minds, and it can freak people out quite a bit. But overall, it was just really interesting to hear Sai's path into virtual reality from the early days of the DK1 and DK2, and then going back to school to study the sociology of emerging technologies and how people use them to create community. And how she really sees that in virtual reality, we're in the process of recreating our own reality. And it's giving us the ability to have experiences that aren't even possible in our existing reality. And that as people have these virtual reality experience where they identify their body being the experience and they are able to express their agency in a very convincing and plausible way, then it just starts to allow them to achieve this deep state of presence that makes them question the nature of reality, which is a deep and profound outcome of virtual reality, and I think is probably part of the reason why Job Simulator and the experiences that Alchemy Labs have been creating are able to touch some people in a deep and profound way. So congratulations to Alchemy Labs for reaching the mark of over $3 million in revenue for Job Simulator, and I definitely look forward to the release of the Rick and Morty Simulator in 2017 and a lot more experiences to come. So that's all that I have for today. I just wanted 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 become a donor to the Patreon. Just a few dollars a month makes a huge difference. So donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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