#883 ‘Rec Room:’ Social VR World Building Platform on PC, Console, Mobile, & VR

Rec Room is one of the most successful social VR platforms, and they’re also on the most platforms including PC VR, Quest, PSVR, PC 2D, PS4 2D, and most recently iOS phones and tablets. There aren’t a lot of other casual social mobile app experiences that offer voice chat, and they saw a lot of grow in 2019 with a lot more than a million downloads (which was reported at the end of 2018).

I ran into Rec Room‘s head of community Shawn Whiting at the Impact Reality Summit, and we talked about his journey to Rec Room, and all of the world building tools that they’ve enabled. There is a lot of user generated content in Rec Room, and the majority of room visits are now coming from user-created rooms.

Whiting talks about the visual scripting language and world building tools that has Rec Room users collaborating on dev teams, and creating rooms that are sometimes getting millions of visits.

Whiting didn’t provide any specific numbers on the number of total users, monthly active users, daily active users, or retention time. But he did give me a sneak peak of some of the all-time stats for Rec Room (i.e. these are not just from 2019)

  • 1.6 million rooms (this excludes everyone’s default dorm room)
  • 200 million room visits
  • 22 million friends made
  • 30 million photos taken in game using our virtual camera

After our interview, Whiting also said that it’s possible to record embodied, volumetric performances that can be overlaid with multiple characters to make it possible for users to record and share their stories.

I left this conversation really impressed with everything that’s happening within Rec Room. It feels the early days of a fleshed out Metaverse, although currently a walled garden version as they focus on creating an embodied experience that’s uniform across so many diverse platforms.

Whiting says that there is a whole generation of digital-native content creators ranging from experiences like Minecraft, Roblox, Dreams, Little Big Planet, & Fortnite. He said that their users are very quick at picking up these building interfaces, and they’re able to create experiences with their tools that are on par with what their devs are creating with a professional 3D modeling pipeline and Unity. There are over a million rooms that have been created, and the Rec Room YouTube channel has been featuring The highlights.

Finally, Whiting forgot to mention and wanted me to pass along that Rec Room Inc is currently hiring for a number of positions in the Seattle area.


This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. So continuing on in my series of looking at the VR for Good movement, this is a conversation that I had with Sean Whiting of Rec Room, who was attending the Impact Reality Summit. And we had a chance to kind of catch up and talk about what's happening there at Rec Room. But I think there's actually a lot of really interesting things that are happening with the digital culture that's happening in these virtual worlds like Rec Room. And I think. as we start to think about creating immersive experiences for a whole new generation, I think that there's actually a lot of really fascinating things that are happening there. After I did this conversation with Sean about Rec Room, which happens to be one of the social VR experiences, at the beginning it had a lot of minigames and different ways to play Capture the Flag or do all these different quests, and they've really expanded it out over the years to have a lot more world-building capabilities and to allow people to build the world, have gameplay mechanics, there's a whole visual scripting language, but there's also the ability to start to actually capture yourself and to be able to tell stories with it as well. So there's people who are able to actually talk about different aspects of life experiences they've gone through, mental health challenges, and so there's a whole other layer of interactive and immersive storytelling that's happening within Rec Room as well. And that was some of the things that Sean was talking about just in terms of the VR for good, that there's people that are starting to share different aspects of their lives and to create this new form of digital culture. But Rec Room overall is just this wide, sprawling online community with all sorts of different applications and give a good overview of all the stuff that's happening here in Rec Room in this conversation with the head of community, Sean Whiting. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Oasis of VR podcast. So this interview with Sean happened on Thursday, January 9th, 2020 at the Impact Reality Summit in Seattle, Washington. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:02.702] Shawn Whiting: I'm Sean Whiting. I work at Rec Room and I am the head of community there.

[00:02:09.288] Kent Bye: Great. So maybe you could give me a bit more context as to your background and your journey into virtual reality.

[00:02:15.122] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, so I started VR pretty early when the Kickstarter happened and the initial developer kits came out. A buddy and I, we were at Virginia Tech at the time, and we both started just hacking on VR stuff with a DK1 or 2. We made a really early social world called Converge, where it was just kind of like floating heads, because nobody had any hand controllers at the time. So we tried a bunch of crazy experiments, and we worked on that for a few years. I eventually went to Pluto VR and now Rec Room. Hayden was my co-founder there. He went to Big Screen, and then he's now at Insight VR in New York. So those were kind of our trajectories.

[00:02:55.372] Kent Bye: And I should say that Hayden actually wrote a lot of the networking protocols for WebVR, which then got put into Mozilla Hubs. And so the work that you guys were doing with networking has been spread out through all these different social networks and VR. I remember going into Converge and meeting up with Ben Lang because he wanted to meet there and you kind of popped in and I just had this memory of talking with Ben and you were there and it was this weird feeling of being able to have this sense of social presence with just the most minimal aspect of just a head and head pose but still how much connection you can have in the social VR world. I know that Converge was there very early. So what happened with Converge? Because I know that eventually it sort of moved on. I don't know if we ever did a post-mortem, but maybe now's a good time to sort of talk about what you were able to do and push it up to a certain point. But then each of you moved on and sort of dropped your seeds of social VR into all these other different projects.

[00:03:51.489] Shawn Whiting: Yeah. Yeah. I think Hayden and I, I think we had like a, like a post-mortem written up at some point, I guess we'd probably just never posted it. Maybe we did. I think, I know we made a big Reddit post cause that was the community at the time. Right. It was like all on the subreddit, but I mean, the gist of it was we'd been working on it for like two or three years at that point, all self-funded for the most part we got into Y Combinator. So we got a little bit of, Funding from that but essentially we got to the point where we were just like, you know We've been living in an apartment together for two years and it's just like all you do is work and we were like Well, we're at the point where we're either gonna have to you know raise a bunch of money and start hiring people and really take this thing and as far as it can go, or we looked around at our other opportunities and we both liked what we saw. So I think we were getting pretty close to just burnout, too, in the amount of money we had spent. I mean, we'd started with no experience in the field at all. It was learning Unity tutorials on YouTube and stuff like that. So we were very happy with the outcome of stable jobs in VR. That was a great outcome for us. So I think that's basically what happened there.

[00:05:01.617] Kent Bye: So yeah, maybe you could give a bit more context of Against Gravity and Rec Room since, you know, it was, you're not one of the founders, so it had already been existed. So maybe you could sort of give a bit more of the backstory of the Against Gravity team and the point that you came in into Rec Room.

[00:05:17.912] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, so one note is we changed our name officially to just RecRoom Inc. So the company is RecRoom, the game is RecRoom. We thought that was a lot simpler for people because every now and then we'd be like, oh, Against Gravity, what other projects are you working on? We're like, it's just RecRoom. It's all RecRoom all the time. So we thought that made it easier for people. At the point when I joined, I think I joined maybe like a year and a half in and I've been there for like two, two and a half years now. But the original foundation of the team came out of Microsoft. They had all been working on like the HoloLens content that was A lot of the early HoloLens demos, I think it was like the RoboRaid demo and a few others was the core team. And I think they just saw the potential because they did a few other projects that I think didn't release. And I think they were all just really interested in the space. And yeah, I don't know a ton about the origin story, but a lot of the roots are in kind of that early XR development because the HoloLens had been under development for quite a long time. So from the start at what is now Rec Room, there was like a very, you know, kind of respect for the design and the space. And they weren't starting from scratch. It was like a very experienced team from the beginning. And then I remember in the early days, Rec Room was just like, you had the hub area, which was essentially like the rec center, and then just a few doors. There was like, dodgeball charades and maybe one other thing and that was it and then that's evolved over time into now what is this kind of like sprawling online universe where you play and create games with people from all over the world where it's it's got a lot more of a content creation angle to it so I come in and you and I can go create a room based on whatever we're interested. We create like a Star Trek room and we've got a visual scripting language called circuits where you can drop circuits in there and it's like, hey, when I get in the captain's chair, this happens and this button comes up and you can get all this gameplay logic. You know audio and music starts, so it's really turned into like an experience creation engine at this point kind of like a game creation engine and We've definitely hit the tipping point where a majority of the time now is spent in the user generated rooms like the player created rooms It's I think it's it like 60% plus now because originally it's something we had to fight was like rec room is just like paintball in these mini games and they were great games like people love the games but it took us maybe like a year to make that transition into like oh rec room is a place where I can like build stuff and like grow these communities around my games because you can subscribe to creators and they've started to curate these like really large audiences like some of these rooms they're creating have like a million plus visits to them so they start like twitter accounts that are chronicling the development like hey we're going to push an update to the room and then everyone gets pumped about it and when they do update the room or publish a new room everyone in game gets like a buzz on their watch and We send them an email. So there's all these like small dev teams, mostly of younger people, like I'd say, like middle school, high school, college students that are just, they are building some incredible stuff. Like every week we're just blown away by like, we post stuff in our Slack channel. like oh my god did you see this and we were like i didn't even think that was possible and they're making stuff that's it really feels like a legit game built out of like unity or something like that so i think that's the direction we're going that's really quite fascinating and you know i've had

[00:08:51.869] Kent Bye: this mental model for making sense of the landscape of social VR and seeing how there's a center of gravity of different qualities of presence. So for example, I think of like VR chat has traditionally been the place where people have the full API of Unity, they can build out the world, they can have their own avatar, so they have this full, rich avatar expression, like millions of different avatars that are there, they have all these worlds that are using the full extent of the Unity as a development platform, so they have this API to be able to do the world building and the identity expression, is like the thing that VRChat's really been optimized for. Big screen was like, we're going to not let you move around. You're just going to sit there and you're going to do work on the internet or you're going to like talk to people about different objects of your identity that's being expressed through your computer. So your computer becomes an extension of your identity and your avatar. That you can sort of project up and you can watch movies and so there's a certain element now that big screens really been focused on Having these big movie screenings, but I think at the heart of it It's like a social experience where you're just sitting on a couch with other people and being able to really just connect Deeply in a way that I think if you're running around it's harder to connect more deeply sometimes And then I see something like the way VR is really focused on the music. And so it's more about this sort of festival. You're going to the nightclub. And it's not so much about having these deep intellectual conversations. It's about being in touch with the music and be able to move your body and track your body in different ways. And then I see something like Rec Room was always sort of like the agency, like the game, like you want to be able to play and you want to be able to have dynamic interactions, but all the different sort of mini games and paintball. And it sounds like there's been this movement towards the world building aspect. So creating the world building tools, but to still, I think at the center of gravity is those gameplay mechanics and finding ways that Like what's fun to do with other people like these capture the flag games or these little mini games? But that are essentially like these social games that people are playing and so you have that social dimension And you know, I don't know if there's like a whole music or storytelling aspects. I'm sure people I've seen people doing like theater shows and all sorts of stuff. So it feels like it's like becoming a proper like metaverse where it's really having the aspects of all of what I see of like the center of gravity of different things that you do in a virtual world. But that for me, I've always felt like the rec room was like the mini game agency. You go there to play.

[00:11:16.590] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, that's definitely, I mean that was the original vision and then I think what happened is we started adding very tiny pieces for players that would be like, hey we want to customize this game to play like a slightly different variant of Capture the Flag or people would use the, we had a soccer game where you would like kick a ball into a goal and they started using that field to play like frisbee golf and we were like well this isn't what we intended at all but they could like bring a frisbee and spawn it in and play that and we were like well this is just like a free game that they've created this is great we should give them more tools to do that so we gave them a sandbox machine which was like any object in the game you can like locate it and then just pull it out of the machine it'll generate it like a In Star Trek, you've got the replicator. It's like a replicator for all the rec room items. And then just from putting that in the game, we saw a huge explosion of different game modes. People wanted all this stuff. And we were like, OK, we should just let them. The next thing is they can create all these games. Now they need to be able to save the state that they left the room in, right? Because they get all this setup done, and they play their game. And then the next day, they want to play again. And they have to use the sandbox machine to lay it all out again. And we were like, well, we should just let them save the state of the room, like where the objects are and if they add any game logic or whatever. So that's when we gave them like the customize a room, save it. And then that just exploded out into all these other features you know you've got the maker pen so you can create 3d objects to like decorate the room so people have created entire massive miles by miles wide environments it feels like where some of the first big ones were these badlands or wastelands games where it's just this giant map and people would go out and explore and create little groups and they would like war with each other and there's like a radio tower and they capture the radio tower and are like Broadcasting to everyone. But yeah, it's really grown out into you can now see different communities forming around different types of experiences They like so there's a whole group of creators that like to create custom quests, right? so like just like the rec room quests we have you know, like a the fantasy sci-fi pirate quest style stuff they've gone and created like underwater quests like crazy space quests and you like get into a rocket ship and like they make way more content than we could ever possibly make and every week we're like releasing new tools so that that content is We've got like dynamic lighting now and materials and like particle emitters and a sound effects chip and all this stuff. So it's really getting to the point where the quality of what they're building is just about as good as what we're building as a team, which is really cool for us to see. Cause it's like the investment and all of these creative tools is really paying off because it's generating. you know, millions of visits to these rooms, which is, it's a huge leverage point for us, is like, make this tool, and then they make tens of thousands of rooms that are all generating a bunch of interest based on themes that maybe we never would have done because we're not in touch with that culture, that audience, but they're just building crazy amounts of stuff all the time.

[00:14:22.206] Kent Bye: Well, I know that when AltspaceVR was still an independent company, they were really pioneering of putting all their AltspaceVR and all the different platforms that were available at the time. You know, they were the most cross-platform social VR experience that was out there. But I think Rec Room probably has that title now of like being maybe the first to be on all the different major VR platforms with the Oculus. I don't know if you're on the Gear VR or Go, but the Quest, the Oculus Quest, you have the Oculus Rift, you have the HEC Vive and Steam, and then the PSVR I think is the big one. to be able to have what I think is essentially like, is it cross platform? Or like everyone is in the same world, like whatever VR you're in, you're able to have this kind of shared virtual world.

[00:15:08.580] Shawn Whiting: And on screens and on mobile. We added screens and it was a little bit contentious at the time. Did you start with PC screens or mobile screens? Oh, definitely PC screens. We had screen mode on PC, we ran a beta and then that went out to the PS4 screens. You can just play on your PS4 with a DualShock controller and we see a lot of usage there as well. And then most recently we went on to iOS, so on your iPhone and iPad now you can just go to the App Store and download Rec Room and that's going pretty well.

[00:15:41.470] Kent Bye: So you're on all these different platforms and like that for me What doesn't make sense intuitively is that when I have had different rec room experiences? I've gone in there and it's like you're playing this first-person shooter and you're moving around and shooting and there's a whole spatial dimension But you're able to still use the affordances of people navigating in virtual worlds and people are familiar enough with I don't know games like fortnight or other ways of being able to navigate virtual worlds Minecraft is another one that I know that I've seen my nephew be able to navigate 3d worlds on the iPad that just kind of blows my mind of like how they're able to even Do all the different stuff, but you know you're I guess reaching in some ways a whole generation That's grown up with being able to comfortably navigate 3d spatial worlds in a 2d screen and still have an equivalent type of experience there

[00:16:32.291] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, the design for touch devices is very different. It took us a while to wrap our head around like, what does Rec Room look like on a touch device? So there were a bunch of different UI experiments with like, how do we do the joysticks, virtual joysticks, and how do you lay out the UI? And we were initially really worried. We were like, I don't know if this is going to translate for people. And we did a bunch of tests, especially with younger audiences and our existing audience, we would roll it out like Apple has a test flight program where you can just issue thousands of keys to people. So we allowed people to opt in and we got a bunch of feedback on the UI and improved it. And at this point, it's remarkable to me, because I don't do a lot of mobile gaming myself, but if you give rec room on mobile to especially a younger person, they just are straight away used to it, navigating everything very intuitively. So I think it's definitely a generational thing, like an older individual will probably take a little bit longer to get used to the touch native experience, just if they haven't done a lot of gaming on a touch device. But for younger people, it seemed like a pretty easy transition for them. And then it's just a huge value to the community to have more access points, especially for friends they want to invite in. So say I've got a VR headset, but majority of my friends don't but I still want to show them this like awesome room or experience I made you know we all share this love of this anime or this you know TV show and I'm like hey I built a whole room for this show and I've got like 200,000 visits to it now you guys should come check it out and previously they'd be like well I don't have a headset so that's the end of that conversation. But now it's like, oh, just get it on your PS4, your iPhone, and I'll give you a little tour. And we've actually seen a lot of people, especially over the holidays, go from screen mode to buying a VR headset. So it's like, you know, you get into it, you make some friends in there, and then it's like, oh, I should, I wanna be like, now I wanna be embodied in the world, so I'm gonna go buy a device that allows me to really kick it into the next level.

[00:18:29.296] Kent Bye: Yeah, I know that VR chat had quite a huge explosion with Twitch where people were able to still embody virtual avatars but have those social interactions and it was a bit of a social pressure where people who were in VR actually had more expressive communication abilities by being able to move their body around so there's this sort of inherent Oh my gosh, I'm like not as it's almost like a I know that there's different books that have covered this either ready player one or snow crash where it's like you have to Pay for additional hardware and to have a better equipment that gives you a higher fidelity experience But there is a real impact of the different social dynamics that happen if you are not fully embodied But it feels like there's inherent built-in pressure social pressure to be on equal playing field and being able to express yourself with your full body and

[00:19:17.848] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, it's a really interesting dynamic to watch it roll out whenever we bring on a new platform, especially one that, like you said, has different social affordances based on the hardware you're using. So one of the first things we noticed with screen mode was they took a lot of flack from the community, because the existing community was mostly VR, and then you'd see this screen mode person there, and they'd be mostly like, in the very early days, they were just kind of like stiff, not moving, Because we didn't have even idle animations on them at the time. And then you'd notice they'd start turning on the screen mode players, they'd start calling them pancakes or whatever. They'd find some term to make fun of them because they were like, you just feel like a bot to me, basically. And we were like, yeah, fair enough. That's a design problem we need to solve. So we've captured a bunch of idle animations like we were in VR and I remember we spent like a day or two just capturing just a bunch of like people like looking around and moving their hands and then we map those onto the avatar so that even when you're not doing any input to the touch device or like your PS4 or your keyboard and mouse it still looks like the character is like alive and breathing and that helped a lot and then we just added a whole social mode to screens and touch devices that allows you to puppet your avatar so you can like now use your thumb to like wave and you can get yourself into different dance modes almost like you can position your hands in a certain way and then wave your hands and like move your body around so it really allows you to simulate a lot of the stuff you'd be able to do if you had kind of like a VR device so it's gotten a lot better and I've seen those complaints about like They don't feel like real people. Those have mostly died away. And then the complaints from the screen mode of like, hey, we want to be more expressive. There's still a little bit of that, but I think we've gotten a lot further than we were initially with, you know, the amount of expression you're able to have on a screen or touch device.

[00:21:11.752] Kent Bye: Well, I know that from my number of experiences, I haven't spent an extensive amount of time in Rec Room. I think part of my experience has been, like, I would go in there, and I'm, like, 43 years old, and I feel like what seemed to be, like, a very young teenage crowd and also very aggro, I'm-gonna-kill-you energy, like, You know, there's a bit of like, I played video games up until 1994, and then I took 20 years off and didn't start playing anything until like 2014, so I feel like I have this whole gap of even just how to navigate some of these worlds, and I feel like when I go into a game like Rec Room, I feel like there's people that are very comfortable with navigating virtual worlds, but also have been playing the games there, and have almost like subject matter experts, and then I come in there as a noob, and they just totally annihilate me, You know, I don't know who these people are and it just it's giving this sort of experience of like not always a welcoming environment of that type of play where You're in the middle of a war and you're just getting annihilated and made fun of it That was sort of like the challenge I guess there's been a lot of work that I think rec room has done just by the onboarding process that you have that you're trying to teach a certain amount of code of ethics and code of conduct that you have within the community and I understand that over time there's been just this process of trying to like Encourage people to act nice to each other. But yet there's still like the issue of harassment or this overall culture that's within The group that is essentially if you get a group of ten people get in there brand-new they're gonna have their own culture and it's It's like how do you cultivate a culture of something that is this virtual world and what's the process of trying to create the culture that you want?

[00:22:59.073] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, yeah, I think a big part of that is like the new user experience. So we call that the NUX and we're always running like experiments to see like, hey, when we onboard a new user, are we making sure that we're teaching them everything they need to be like safe and create a welcoming environment and like know that the rules are of the space and the code of conduct. And then another part that I think we've iterated on a lot probably since I'm guessing you went through like a new user flow is like the matchmaking in the rec center space. Like, so you load into your dorm room and then the first space most people usually end up in, although you could go anywhere if you wanted, is the rec center, which is kind of like a, you know, still that kind of hub area with all the doors and all the different experiences. And that matchmaking experience has improved a lot over time, as we noticed. When do people retain better? And then the incidents we hear about from the conduct and support team, where it's like, hey, this user had a bad experience, this is what happened. how can we prevent that? What tweaks can we make? And then, so a lot of it is around, like, we have level-based matchmaking that is like, hey, if you're, like, a lower level, we should probably put you together, because, you know, it's like, hey, I'm new. Are you new? Yes, I'm new. There's still some, like, higher-level players that can be grouped with you, but it's mostly we try to do on level, and then there's an age component in the matchmaking, where it's like, you probably want to hang out with people closer to your own age, and you don't want to be surrounded by people that are 20 years younger or older than you, probably. This is how most people choose where to go out in real life. It's like, I want to find someplace that has my demographic, my interests. And then we also have created a whole new moderation system that allows some of the most trusted players in the community to be moderators in the rec center, we take them through training to say, hey, this is the culture we want to create. Give them the tools they need to be welcoming to people, show them around, and then the tools to enforce how to quickly kick and remove someone who's creating that bad dynamic. Because it only takes one person to set off a whole room. They start going around trolling and saying a bunch of awful stuff, and they can quickly turn that whole room toxic. So we've gotten a lot faster and a lot better about removing those bad elements really quickly So I think our new user experience is probably a lot better now than it has ever been

[00:25:18.588] Kent Bye: And I understand you have a whole virtual economy, or at least there's ways that people can buy avatar skins or hats. Maybe you could talk a bit about the economic component, because in order to be a social network, you need to pay the bills. And it sounds like you've found a way to monetize, at least in a way that in a lot of other social VR experiences, I think it's been a big open question as to what's going to be the business model for how to sustain all of this. And so maybe you could just talk a bit about how you've been able to solve that problem with Rec Room.

[00:25:48.955] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, so we have a whole econ team that focuses on this and I think maybe about a year ago we started allowing all the different platforms. We like rolled out first on PC and then PS4. You're able to buy tokens now in game. So there's a Rec Room virtual currency called tokens and you can get tokens by playing games and completing challenges. We have like a weekly challenge and stuff like that. And as you complete these daily, weekly challenges and orientation challenges and stuff like that, you gain tokens and you can use those tokens to buy avatar items or skins for all the objects in the game. Like I get a different frisbee skin or something so we've seen good progress on developing our own native economy in that sense so we can sell new avatar items and new skins to players and I think the next step for us is going to be to find out how we can allow the creative community to start charging for some elements of stuff they've created so it's like maybe I want to create a paid experience or a paid event We have a whole invention system where I can create like a poster that people want to put in their dorm room. And some of these inventions have been downloaded, you know, tens of thousands of times. So I think the next step for us in the economy is going to be how do we take this from like a rec room? We're issuing new items and people are buying tokens to buy those items too. How do we allow players to buy tokens and then spend it on stuff that other players have created that they really want to support?

[00:27:18.658] Kent Bye: Well, I know that with this day and age of what's happening in the wide world and the culture, there's things like money laundering. Whenever you start to talk about being able to put money in and take money out, you have this possibility for people that are bad actors to start to use these systems to be able to launder money, which I think actually the Valve and one of the different games they had actually had a significant amount of different transactions that were money laundering and so there's all these different regulations you have to follow and so is that something that you've also had to take into account in order to have an economy you have to figure out how to deal with a lot of these different potential threats of bad actors?

[00:27:55.864] Shawn Whiting: Yeah we don't have to yet because there's no like cash out system and there's no player-to-player transfer of tokens yet but we're definitely looking at that for our designs for like the player-to-player economy. There's like a pretty good amount of documentation on that sort of stuff and it's definitely a real problem where I think a lot of bad actors look to games that have that sort of like, oh I can cash into this virtual currency and then I can cash into real dollars and maybe I lose some percent but it's so not regulated well that it's like a good target. So I know people have done this with like World of Warcraft and like the black market for buying gold there and all that sort of stuff. So it's definitely something we're implementing into our design process and talking to people that have more mature player to player economies about So that's definitely being factored into the design, but there's no like core component I could really talk about at this point.

[00:28:48.446] Kent Bye: Well, for you as somebody who's helping to manage the community, what are the types of things that you are focused on right now in terms of the either problems you're trying to solve or questions you're trying to answer?

[00:28:58.919] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, I think a big one we want to tackle next for the community team is helping you find your tribe or a group of people that you identify with more quickly. So I think that's going to end up looking like a sort of club system for us. So rather than coming in to rec room, being in your dorm room, then going straight into a rec center where it's just like, like you said, it's like any number of people from any age and any region, we want to provide an experience where it's like, Hey, I'm into I only want to talk to people who are into like maybe the more artistic side of Rec Room. So like anyone who's into there's like a pretty healthy and growing drawing and design community. So they have like whiteboards and canvases and people will just get together and like paint landscapes in Rec Room. Like they'll go into a room that's just full of like a beautiful landscape and then they'll It's pretty wild when you think about it like there's someone in a headset who's got a virtual canvas and they're painting a virtual landscape and then they like post that to Instagram and it's like look at this beautiful thing I made of a virtual landscape like in a virtual world it's kind of wild but Yeah, I think the next thing for us is being able to more quickly find a group of people that you'll have a good time with and like have the same interests as you. You kind of think of it like, you know, meetup.com or something. It's like there's a wide range of meetups in any given area based on what you're into. And right now it can be difficult to like find people that have the exact same interests as you. So we want to improve that a lot.

[00:30:34.783] Kent Bye: Well, I know that in the early days of social VR, there's been a lot of PC-based stuff and being able to look at Steam programs and then to look at Steam database to be able to sort of extrapolate the size of different communities. But with Rec Room, you have PSVR, you have all mobile, you have all sorts of other ways that people are accessing it on Oculus Quest now as well. Those numbers are gonna be wildly underestimating what the actual communities are. And so has Rec room Inc been able to say anything about the amount of people that are in there the number of daily recurring users or just like how big this community is and like ways that you are able to publicly talk about what kind of size of the metaverse that you've been cultivating here and

[00:31:22.037] Shawn Whiting: I'm actually putting together a 2019 in-review post that I want to post soon. We've been gathering up stats around the office. Some of them are just kind of fun stats. It's like, hey, this is the number of root beers that were drank this year. And it's in the millions. It's just an enormous amount of Like these we have like consumables in the game that you can eat like pizzas like the number of pizza slices and then some of them are some of them are more like you're saying growth stuff like how many rooms were there and the beginning of 2019 and how many are at the end and I think we like It's a giant leap I'm trying to think of what the exact numbers are but like I mean I can tell you that December was the best month we've ever had like every year it keeps growing quite a lot and But yeah, in terms of exact numbers, you'd probably wanna keep an eye on our Rec Room Twitter and Instagram pages, and I think in the next week or two, we'll post the exact figures, but I don't wanna try to recall them and screw it up.

[00:32:22.891] Kent Bye: That's fair enough, yeah. Look forward to seeing that, because yeah, I think it's helpful to give people a sense of the scale, because I think that there's a point where the numbers were being, I guess, wildly underestimated, even like VRChat would have huge amount of numbers like for the longest time the biggest numbers but yet a lot of those people are on PC or 2d so maybe like 30 or 40 percent of the people at most were in VR itself and so it seems like I mean even Rec room is gonna have the split between The screen based and the 2d and the mobile Do you have a sense of the rough? percentage of how many people are in VR in rec room and at any time and how much of the mobile is sort of like making up of the ecosystem at this point

[00:33:05.165] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, I think last time I looked, I thought it was roughly 50-50. That might have changed. We have like a 2018 year in review post that we did last year with similar stats. And I think we mentioned the like screens to VR breakdown in there. But the last I recall is it was roughly 50-50. But yeah, the screens, like the number of people playing on screens and iPhone and iPad and the touch devices is, it's growing very quickly and it has the potential to grow way faster than VR just due to the number of VR devices out there, right? So it's like, it's a really interesting space for us to watch and, you know, see how many people share it with their friends, like just around the lunch table. It's like, hey, I've got this thing on my phone. It's a lot easier to become aware of that in a social setting than like, Hey, I'm in my room on this headset. Like it's a lot harder to in a social situation, you know, even, even now out at a bar, I can just be like, Hey, this is the app we make and just pull it out and just like show someone on my phone. It makes it a lot easier for, I think. To have that like organic growth of just like, Oh, I'm aware of this now. Cause it's always in my pocket. So I think that's something that we're going to try to really take advantage of and going into 2020.

[00:34:21.910] Kent Bye: What do you think it was about December they had such a spike? Was it Christmas and more people with quests or have you been able to isolate it down?

[00:34:28.562] Shawn Whiting: Well, in like mid December, we had the iPhone and iPad launch. That was a huge boost. We got some like promotion in the app store, so that was great. And then, yeah, it's just like Christmas. You see a massive spike and people opening up new devices, you know, new PS4s, new PSVRs, new Quest. The Quest did really well. We saw a huge spike in the Quest players logging in. It's like right on Christmas Day, you see it. It's like unwrap, in, like user numbers spike. So yeah, Christmas is always very good. And then we see a nice lift in the summertime as well when people are like, you know, out of school, maybe they take a vacation from work. So summer and like the holidays are definitely huge spikes for the Rec Room like active community.

[00:35:17.827] Kent Bye: One of my, I guess, theories of the social VR is that it's probably going to take off more for people who are not in a city with a lot of cultural options, like maybe people out in the country, more rural areas, like people that are in the city may have enough sort of stimulation of just being around stuff where there's a lot of things to do, but if you live out in the middle of the country and you don't have a lot of friends and you want to play what is essentially these different shoot-em-up games, capture the flag or whatever, that this is a way for people to kind of play together. But have you seen that borne out in terms of like how many people are in areas that are not around major metropolitan areas?

[00:35:55.046] Shawn Whiting: I haven't looked at the exact stats in our dashboards on what percent is considered a metropolitan area or city versus rural, but in my experience, anecdotally, I'd say what you're saying is true. Also, just from my personal experience growing up. in the mountains of Virginia, and I lived way out on a country road. It was kind of a hard task for me to convince any of my friends' parents to bring them out to hang out with me, so we spent a lot of time playing EverQuest. you know, Steam games where we would be on like the phone with each other or in like the early Ventrilo or TeamSpeak. So that feels intuitively correct to me. It's like if I don't have easy mobility to like get to my friends or these social opportunities, the online opportunities become a lot more important to you and like meaningful. And then just with the players I've interacted with, I do definitely notice a trend towards, hey, there's no one around me who cares about this stuff that I really care about, whether that's gaming or like my interests or my like media tastes. And they find that community in Rec Room and it's just super refreshing for them. They post all these like, oh my God, I can't believe I lived life without having this group of friends that like cares about the stuff I care about. So that's one of like the core positive experiences we see over and over again. So I think what you're saying is holds true to me.

[00:37:17.272] Kent Bye: And do the users have voice chat and even on the mobile phones are able to just speak into their phones and be able to interact with other people in these social interactions?

[00:37:25.527] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, voice chat is on every platform. You can toggle it on and off on the touch devices. So if you're in like a really noisy place, you can quick mute it and then you can toggle it on to like auto pick up. So yeah, we see a lot of people that are really interested in that because there's not a lot of social mobile games that have voice chat built in, but it gives you like a much richer connection with the people you're interacting with rather than having to like punch in text every time. And for people that don't want to voice chat, we do also have like a new room chat feature. So there is like a running chat on the left side for people that are like, oh, you know, everyone in my house is asleep. I don't want to voice chat or for whatever reason. Even in VR now, if you turn your wrist towards like the underside of your wrist, it pops up kind of like a chat menu and you can punch that open and type in whatever you want. So we wanted to provide better support for people that didn't have a mic or didn't want to use a mic for whatever reason. But yeah, the voice chat is just such a core part of, I feel like connecting with people in Rec Room is a lot richer experience than some of the non-mic communities I've hung out in. Because when you hear someone's voice and the tone of what they're saying, it just does something to your brain where you feel a deeper connection with that group.

[00:38:38.677] Kent Bye: Well, in talking to the VRChat folks, they were talking about how they were having so many avatars in so many worlds that they actually had to create a whole green light system and be able to have a moderation community because obviously you don't want to just have the ability to be able to have people put out whatever content they want on your platform and not have any curatorial input as to what type of content people are creating. But yet at the same time, I'd imagine that soon very quickly gets beyond your capacity as a small team to be able to either experience everything and being able to vet everything as well. And so what has been your approach to be able to have some sort of system to either help the community help to do that or to build the tools and infrastructure to be able to ensure that there is some at least curatorial oversight as to what type of stuff is being made?

[00:39:23.128] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, so before you post any room or invention or anything, we kind of give you a warning like, hey, this has to abide by the code of conduct, just so you know. And then once it's up, we have like a really robust room reporting or a report system for whatever object you report an invention, a room, or whatever. And then that surfaces immediately to our moderation team who can like go in and review something. And I believe if you have a low enough reputation, eventually you just lose the right to publish things. And if you have a low enough reputation to start with, it probably just won't even let you publish something. So it's kind of like a reputation system combined with the users or the community report stuff that they feel like is outside of the code of conduct. And then we check it and either approve it or remove it from the community.

[00:40:08.664] Kent Bye: So it's kind of like an ad hoc social scoring system in order to help with the moderation capabilities.

[00:40:13.976] Shawn Whiting: Yeah. Yeah. We take a lot of input from the players on what they feel like is appropriate or inappropriate. And then we'll make the final call on whether that's something that's, because sometimes it kind of like rides the line of the code of conduct. We're like, Ooh, this is a tough case. We're going to have to like apply a judicial system to this, where we like get a feedback from everyone in the company. It's like, all right, this is the decision. So yeah, that's kind of how that process goes.

[00:40:37.895] Kent Bye: Well, I imagine that as a kid, you make lots of mistakes. And so I imagine people may have had different choices they make. And then the consequences is that they get their rec room taken away and you're essentially taking them away from their community and their other people. What's that been like to be able to deal with this learning process of having people make these transgressions and then have things being taken away? And then how do they have the sense of redemption or get their privileges back of how they should act in this community?

[00:41:08.342] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, I'd say there's definitely a wide variety of, you can tell the intention of somebody when they publish a rumor, an invention. It's pretty clear, like, oh, this was a slip-up, they didn't realize that this is slightly outside of the code of conduct, so we'll just give them a warning, and if they correct it quickly, we'll republish the room for them. So there's a lot of just innocent, like, oh, I'm sorry, I didn't notice that was in there, I didn't know that was outside of the bounds. And then there's clearly stuff that's just like a troll room. It's like, oh, they know what they were doing and they saw how long it could stay up and we took it down immediately. So it mostly falls into those two camps pretty cleanly and it doesn't require a lot of other action. What was the second part of the question?

[00:41:50.139] Kent Bye: Oh, just imagine that, you know, people who, you know, do something that has their rec room taken away, you know, that could be pretty devastating if you're essentially taking away someone's social network of their friends. And, you know, what kind of like things you've had to deal with in terms of, because my sense is that the center of gravity of the major demographic of rec room is fairly young. At least that's been my experience. I anecdotally, when I've gone in there, it seems like. People that are fairly young that have access to these things but if you're taking away these things from these Teenagers then I imagine that there'd be this devastating like you're literally taking away someone's community and their friends

[00:42:25.635] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, I think we definitely see that in the reactions. I monitor all of our social channels and you'll see like, you know, people are devastated when their, you know, when their access is taken away, even temporarily. It's like, we'll give you a one, two, three day ban, kind of, if your first warning was, you know, if it's something that we feel like deserves that level of ban, but they're like, yeah, this is going to be very difficult for me to go three days because my best friends are in there and one of them has like a birthday this weekend that I wanted to make. Like, can I get an appeal on this? And we're like, we'll review it and we'll be like, sorry, you clearly, after multiple warnings, continue to break the code of conduct and this is the consequences. And at that point, you'll see a lot of people shape up. They're like, oh, wow. like my actions have consequences and like those consequences have real teeth in them that I didn't expect because I think a lot of people are used to communities where it's like I come and do whatever I want and there's no consequences so when they find in rec room there are clear and quick consequences they're like taken aback like what is this like I'm being punished for this awful thing I did and we're like yes yes you are like I hope you don't do it again or it'll be permanent and they're like oh god no like I don't want to permanently So as soon as they start to realize that they could permanently lose access for continuing to do things outside of the code of conduct, we see a lot of people turn that around. And then if they don't, it's just a permanent ban and that's that.

[00:43:43.071] Kent Bye: Well, how do you keep track of what's happening in Rec Room with all the different, is there different people that are embedded journalists or showing what's happening or how do you keep track of what the buzz is with what's happening in Rec Room?

[00:43:54.817] Shawn Whiting: Yeah. We have a pretty large community team at this point. So we have a lot of people that we've hired, especially remotely that kind of help us keep tabs on all the moderation and support and, you know, like our rec center moderators. So they're kind of like the boots on the ground, taking the pulse of the community. And then we have a bunch of dashboards that monitor like the sentiment of the community in terms of the number of reports versus the number of cheers, which is kind of like a positive social signal of like someone created a great room or like, They gave me a great experience, they showed me around. You can cheer someone, cheers a room, cheers an invention. So we always monitor that sentiment of like, is the negative actions, hopefully there are way more positive actions than negative and you can watch that trend over time. And then it's also, so it's half data and then half what are people reporting to us. And yeah, the community team does a great job of Keeping the pulse on that and we have a weekly community team meeting where we kind of debrief and like hey What were the issues this week? How can we fix them and then that always goes into community design and work to kind of iterate on those problems?

[00:44:55.466] Kent Bye: It's just a never-ending kind of design exercise Well, what do you personally want to experience in VR? I?

[00:45:03.240] Shawn Whiting: Let's see. I love when somebody in Rec Room builds something that I've been waiting for, like, just the VR community as a whole to build. Like, I would love, like, some sort of Lord of the Rings experience where, like, I can go through Rivendell and, like, check this stuff out. And then I'm like, well, maybe no one's ever going to build that. And then in Rec Room, someone's like, hey, I built Rivendell. And I'm like, oh my god, this is great. You don't have to wait for these AAA developers to build something. It starts to spring up in Rec Room now. And I think that's a really cool trend. We had people building all these baby Yoda rooms. And I'm like, I love the Mandalorian. And seeing all these Mandalorian rooms is just like, oh, it's so good. I love going in there and seeing them and seeing all the stuff that comes out of them. I guess my main thing is I'd love for us to keep building out our tools to the point where anyone can get together with a group of people, like we're seeing people form into these Rec Room dev teams now, and build the stuff they want to see. They don't have to lobby other giant gaming studios to build this stuff. It's easy enough that they can just go in and build it for themselves and all their friends. And the fact that some of the community or some of my friends or anyone can go in and build this stuff, that I'm like, we would have never seen this, but like, it was so easy that you could go do it. I think that's something that I'm really happy with and looking forward to seeing more of.

[00:46:29.435] Kent Bye: Well, I know that last year at Microsoft Build, they were celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Minecraft. And so have you found that there's been like an influence of Minecraft, of the game, of people being familiar with building worlds in Minecraft and then translating some of those skills and that mindset and that ethos? You know, when I was growing up, there was Legos and you would build Legos, but there wasn't anything like the equivalent of like Minecraft, which is what I think of as like virtual Legos to be able to build entire worlds. But do you see a connection there between Minecraft and Rec Room?

[00:46:57.815] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, we see a lot of players come in from like Minecraft, Roblox, like Dreams, LittleBigPlanet, like all these things where they're like, oh, they're already familiar with building like Fortnite, right? Like you build quick structures in Fortnite, and then they've got the Fortnite creative thing now. But I think the act of like creation or user-generated content in a game is just like a trend that's rising to the point where everyone intuitively understands like, oh, this is a world that I can build. And you just have to learn whatever the creation tool is in that space. So yeah, I think we see a lot of people come in. I think, yeah, Minecraft is probably one of the bigger ones. Roblox is one that people talk about. LittleBigPlanet was a big one early on that people would mention. a lot of the players, especially the players that end up creating, are just like creator natives. They're just like, I understand what this is, I know the structure, let me learn these tools real quick, and now I've built like a wildly successful room in like two days. So I think they know exactly what they're doing, yeah.

[00:48:02.567] Kent Bye: Great, so finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality might be, and what it might be able to enable?

[00:48:11.508] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, I mean I kind of see everything through a social VR lens, so for me it's about connection and solving that issue of, you know, there's no one in my life who I can like talk about these things I identify with very personally. Like if you don't have someone in your life where you can connect with on those things that are just like running through your mind all the time, it's like very depressing. I've been in states in my life, like when I lived in LA and I was like, I can't find anyone here that I can talk to about interesting things. It was like a huge bummer. Maybe I just didn't look in the right places. I don't want to dig on LA, but um, I think that solving that problem of I've got people in my life and I'm connecting with them in a very rich way. I feel present with them rather than just on a forum writing text. I think that does something to your brain and I've just seen a bunch of people in Rec Room talk about it and it really improves their lives. It has a huge qualitative boost to their life. they're able to be more social out in the real world afterwards. That's something I like to hear, because I don't like to imagine that this is just a benefit that you get in the virtual world, and then there's no tangible benefit in real life. That would be quite sad to me. But we've seen a lot of reports from people where it's like, hey, I've come in, I found this community, and it changed my life for the better all around, like in the real world and everything. I found this group, I founded this community, I started this room that gained a following. built these like code and art and design skills and now I'm going to go and get a game dev degree. So just seeing those positive outcomes of people connecting in VR and in these virtual worlds, I think it's just that and ensuring that the design we do to make those connections happen for more people. That's basically all I want to work on.

[00:50:03.289] Kent Bye: Well, I know we've talked in the past and you've mentioned MMOs and, you know, like being able to have what is essentially what is commonly referred to as the metaverse. Are there any plans at Rec Room of connecting to the outside world, being able to interlink between worlds in any way? I'm just curious if what seems to be like the early beginnings of this walled garden metaverse, but if you've had a larger vision for how this could potentially kind of go beyond what Rec Room is and to be able to link off to like, say, web VR or go into other immersive experiences and to have other people come in from other VR experiences and to deep link into Rec Room itself. I feel like that there's this Metcalfe's Law of moving from the days of AOL and CompuServe, which had those walled gardens, but with the internet exploding, I feel like that key element of being able to go anywhere from and into, I don't know if that's something that you've looked into with the deep links or other things like that.

[00:50:58.257] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, I remember we had a discussion at one point about some sort of web VR integration that we thought would be interesting. I haven't followed up. I haven't heard anyone discussing that recently. What did you mention besides web VR?

[00:51:09.837] Kent Bye: Well, I know Oculus talks about deep link. I know that with Horizon, you're going to be able to go into from one world, like Facebook Horizon, and be able to go into a whole other world. So you're able to go out of the world, but come into the world, I think, as well. So having that Metcalfe's law is that the value of the network increases with the number of nodes that are connected to each other. So the more possibilities of connecting those nodes, it just becomes a more valuable communications network, which is essentially what I think everybody has dreamed of, the metaverse. there's a version of the metaverse that's controlled by IOI and you have no way to go in and out, but then there's the other sort of open web, decentralized, you have your economy, but then can you go in and out? I think that's the element that I see as a key to the future of what I imagine as the metaverse. There's certainly the foundations of a lot of the metaverse elements, but I feel like not being able to go out or come in is a blocker to having what I would consider to be sort of a fully fledged metaverse.

[00:52:08.511] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, I think we're still at the point where there are other platforms that the players want to play on that we haven't really considered. We've got rec room on everywhere people want it. How can we extend that to like other metaverses or other apps or other platforms like in and out? I think at this point we're still doing the hard work of like going from VR and PS4 onto the Quest was like a big move for us just to like get onto that platform and then getting onto the touch devices was like a huge move for us. And we're still at the point where it's so valuable to make those just like sideways moves onto new platforms that I think we're probably just not in the headspace of like how do we now start doing in and out with like other apps, but maybe we'll get there.

[00:52:53.475] Kent Bye: Great. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?

[00:52:59.527] Shawn Whiting: No, I don't think so. If you're interested in Rec Room updates, we've got our Twitter and our Instagram. The Instagram is a good place to look if you want to see what Rec Room looks like inside. There's a lot of really interesting people posting photos of new rooms and inventions. People take selfies. We've got an AR feature now in the phones where you turn the camera around, and then if you've got the depth camera, it'll try to match your facial expressions. And as you move your head, your character's head moves. So there's some pretty interesting social media stuff coming out of the app now. So I think it's really interesting to follow that, because it's a window in. So even if you don't have the time to go play Rec Room, you can still, in our YouTube channel, you can still check out all these cultural events that are happening. Yeah, we document a lot of, like, here are the top rooms of the week on YouTube. So it's a really good way to, like, see if you'd be interested in the stuff that's going on.

[00:53:50.209] Kent Bye: Oh, wow. So people can really deeply embody their avatar character and all what they're wearing and all their clothes and everything by doing the AR features and posting it to social media. And I mean, I would imagine that that's really going to increase the ability of people really taking on the embodiment of these characters that then have a virtual representation in the virtual realm of Rec Room.

[00:54:08.863] Shawn Whiting: Yeah, it's pretty wild on a touch device to be like, oh, when I move my head, the avatar's head moves. It makes a link in your mind closer to that character. It does what VR does, right? You look in the mirror, you move your hand, you wave at yourself, and there's a magic moment there instantly. We get that magic moment for free in VR when you spawn into your dorm room. You look in the mirror, and you see yourself move, and it's just like your mind is blown. So yeah, we want to keep moving as much of that as possible, those magic moments, over to screens and the touch devices. The AR like depth cameras is like a really good way to do that. And the facial tracking is getting better every month. So it's like as you smile or as you stick your tongue out, like it'll change your rec room character's face as you move your head. So it feels pretty magical.

[00:54:54.803] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, Sean, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to sit down and go through a little bit of the evolution and what's happening with Rec Room. There's a lot of stuff that's happening. I'm super excited to see where this goes. And especially with this mobile platform, I think that's going to be a huge part of the long-term growth and evolution of what you're creating with Rec Room. So thank you. Yeah. Thanks for having me. So that was Sean Whiting. He's the head of community at Rec Room. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, Well, RecRoom is I think probably one of the most successful social VR companies that are out there. They've already got different ways of revenue, having these different tokens. I know that VRChat has got a lot of users and a lot of engagement. I just not necessarily sure if they're having as much revenue as RecRoom is, but also like RecRoom, they have a lot of the world building tools that are actually being built in within the actual system, which I think is super fascinating. I think that's going to hit this like inflection point. Also, just to see how they're on all these different platforms. So to go from the PC originally, and then to expand out into the PlayStation, the PSVR, and to then go into like, you know, screen media to be able to do 2D, and then eventually be able to go into the Oculus Quest, as well as the 2D. I don't know which came first. I don't know if it was the Quest and then the 2D on the screens. But then from there to then move into mobile. And so to have like iOS devices, iPhone, tablets, So people have different experiences and all these different platforms. I think they're really pushing the edge in terms of like, you know, trying to design for all these different use cases. You know, for me, it was hard to imagine, like, how could you have a similar experience within Rec Room on the mobile device? Because there's so much about it, about having these embodied games that I've seen. But apparently a lot of people are being able to just hang out with their friends, be able to actually have voice chat, which is a huge capability that isn't in a lot of mobile games already. And there's this whole world building tools. I think that for me is probably one of the most exciting. I was able to get some statistics from Sean. He didn't remember them off the top of his head, but he did send me this note. They have 1.6 million rooms. That is not including the default rooms, the dorm rooms. And then there's 200 million room visits. I know that last year, in 2018, they said that Rec Room was installed over a million devices. And as they have expanded out, now that they're on the mobile platform, you know, there's like hundreds of millions of different devices that are out there that could potentially, they could actually see growth in their app that goes way beyond what's possible for any other app that's out there just because they're on an experience that is trying to create an immersive experience where I think they did see a little bit of people transitioning from the 2D screens where people can even play on their PlayStation on the DualShock controller, people can play on their phones. And so just imagine, like Sean was saying, you could be with your friends and be able to show them something about this experience and then have this kind of spread in a much more viral way. So it sounds like you know, there's a lot of different rooms are being created the 1.6 million rooms 200 million room visits and then 22 million friends made 30 million photos taken in the game using the virtual camera So all of these they're not giving exact, you know numbers of daily active users monthly active users. That's sort of like the Gold standard numbers that everybody wants to see but they're keeping that close to their chest and you can kind of extrapolate a little bit there I think last year in 2018 They had said that they installed over a million devices and you know, obviously they've had some growth this year. It sounds like So the other thing that I just mentioned as I'm sort of going through that is the ability to start to use the AR camera. So to be able to, to take different aspects and have your virtual representation of this end world game, and to have a currency where the more that you are active in doing these different challenges, or you can actually buy tokens as well to be able to buy different avatar representations or different objects. So you start to have this thing where you start to express your identity through your avatar representation in rec room. And I think there's something really. interesting and profound about having an AR filter and having this, you know, cause when you're in Rec Room, you have the ability to put on these different avatar representations and you're able to see yourself in a mirror, but for the most part, it's a first person experience. And so other people are seeing you, but you can't necessarily like see yourself. But if you have the AR filter, you're able to really drop in and really have this deeper sense of embodiment with your virtual characters that you're creating. So super fascinating to see that that's a feature that they're starting to push out. And, you know, whole different aspects of the virtual economy. There's no way to check out or to have players exchange, but it looks like they're working towards being able to actually, like, have people sustain and to pay for different experiences that people are creating, because it sounds like lots of different people are creating these different rooms, different experiences. It sounds like you can go to their YouTube or their Instagram to be able to see different updates for what's happening in Rec Room. But it sounds like there's also these communities of people coming together and wanting to actually like form like these dev teams and that a lot of the tools that they're creating, Sean was saying at least, that they're starting to be on par with what the Rec Room developers are able to create. So be able to use the tools within Rec Room to create these immersive experiences that are on par with a lot of these other Unity-based games and experiences. I'm super impressed to see where Rec Room has gone and how they continue to grow and expand out. And yeah, it makes me want to dive in there a little bit more and kind of check out these different sub-communities. I think the matchmaking and being able to go in there and to find a community that you really resonate with, I really see that as an issue. If you're not connected to anyone already, then I think it can be a little bit difficult to kind of find other people that you want to really connect with, which I think is Sounds like a lot of the features that they're going to be working on here in the coming year. So anyway, just one other point of just talking about the VR for Good as a larger movement. I think Rec Room is starting to become a whole distribution platform within itself. And so seeing how you can start to engage future generations. There's a lot of youth and teenagers and young folks that are in Rec Room. And so what a great way to start to potentially engage that demographic by creating specific rooms or experiences that resonate with them. And it sounds like that it may be easier to just start to learn how to use the tools and start to build different roles and to do a certain level of rapid prototyping with the visual scripting language and everything that's built within Rec Room itself. So anyway, I'm just super impressed with everything that's going on there and I'm excited to see where this all goes. So, that's all that I have for today, and 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 consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a list-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So, you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

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