#542: Bringing Otherworldliness, Fun, & Whimsey into Your Home with AR game “Woorld”

robin-hunicke-2017Funomena’s Woorld won the best AR experience at the recent Google Play awards. You scan your room with a Google Tango-enabled phone, and then you’re encouraged to decorate your space with extremely cute art and characters designed by Katamari’s Keita Takahashi. Part of the gameplay in Woord is to figure out how to combine different object together in order to unlock new objects and portions of the story in your space.

Funomena had to innovate on a lot of augmented reality user interaction paradigms and spatial gameplay in designing this game. I had a chance to catch up with Funomena co-founder and CEO Robin Hunicke at Google I/O to talk about her game design process, as well as her deeper intention of bringing sacredness, mindfulness, calmness, worship, spirituality, love, empathy, and kindness into your environment through augmented reality technology. She takes a lot of inspiration from Jodorowsky’s Technopriests as well as the sci-fi novel Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder. Hunicke also sees that there’s a split that’s emerging between the commercial VR and the indie VR scene with the character of content that’s being funded, and she talks the importance of supporting indie game creators.


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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 I am super excited to share this interview today with Robin Haneke from Phenomena. And they created this augmented reality game called World, which won the best AR experience at the Google Play Awards. And Robin is somebody who just thinks really, really deeply about game design. And I think she's taken an approach with World that I think is a little bit different than a lot of the other games that I've seen so far. And I think it seems to really work. World is one of those games that really does push a lot of limits for a lot of what the AR apps of the future are going to look like. So, that's what we'll be covering 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 Voices of VR Patreon campaign. The Voices of VR is a gift to you and the rest of the VR community. It's part of my superpower to go to all of these different events, to have all the different experiences and talk to all the different people, to capture the latest and greatest innovations that's happening in the VR community and to share it with you so that you can be inspired to build the future that we all want to have with these new immersive technologies. So you can support me on this journey of capturing and sharing all this knowledge by providing your own gift. You can donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So this interview with Robin happened after the Google Play Awards at Google I.O. that was happening on Thursday, May 18th, 2017 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:01:53.734] Robin Hunicke: My name is Robin Haneke and I am the CEO and co-founder of Phenomena in San Francisco and I'm here at Google I.O. because we were nominated and then we won Best AR Experience at Google Play, which was a huge honor. We started working on the project a little over a year ago. It's an experience for the Tango phone, which is the Lenovo Fab 2 Pro, and that phone has a special camera in it that allows you to map the environment around you in real time, which means you can hold the phone up and look through the lens of the camera that's facing out from the phone, and then we can give you little things to put in the world, and you can place them accurately on tables and chairs and other people's heads and lots of different fun places. So we created a little game, creatively directed and designed by Keita Takahashi, and programmed almost exclusively by Wu Ha, which allows you to slowly open up a series of magical objects that you place in the world and create little experiences for yourself, and eventually, UFOs. I mean, I don't want to spoil it, but I'm just going to say eventually UFOs. So there's a little character in the world when you first open up the game, and it kind of asks you to sort of like show the ceiling and show me the wall and, oh, I really like your floor. And what you're doing is you're playing with the character as you're mapping your environment. And then you can use the game to basically put everything from like little mushrooms and flowers to clouds that hang from the ceiling and then rain on the flowers and open up new Easter eggs and stuff. And it's basically kind of like a little grow game where you're pasting all of the pieces of the game into your bedroom, say. So you can have stuff on the ceiling, on the floor, on your bed. And like I said, if there's someone sitting there, you can put them on them as well. And so a lot of what makes World whimsical is that it shows you a new world inside of your own world, which is kind of what AR can do, I think, as a technology. It can bring otherworldliness and fun and whimsy into a space as boring as my office, which is where we made it, you know? So, it was a really fun project to work on, and I would say one of the things that I didn't expect developing for AR was how social it would be, you know? When you test an AR game, we're looking through the screen at the world in front of you, people just naturally just walk over to see, like, oh, what's What's behind that screen? Oh, look, look, he's just put a mushroom on Keita's head, you know? And then the mushrooms are spinning around and there's like rainbow poos and a snowman and all these funny things. And so it's kind of like Keita's wild imagination. If he could draw all over your world, that's what you get when you see the experience. And I mean, as a huge fan of Keita, like I'm the world's biggest Keita fan. I have a Katamari license plate on my car from like 2005. I'm a huge, huge fan. I was just delighted to be able to give them the opportunity to build this really interesting and experiential AR game.

[00:05:05.276] Kent Bye: Yeah, and you've been also working in virtual reality with Luna, which we talked about before. And, you know, we're starting to break through this two dimensions and bring into the third dimension. But when you think about an AR game, you're starting to bring in the entire room and use the volume of your space for unique gameplay mechanics. And so as you were starting to do this AR game, I'm just curious how you think about using space as part of that gameplay mechanic.

[00:05:35.000] Robin Hunicke: Yeah, actually, I've been thinking about this a lot, because the next title that I want to design, or that I'm already designing, I guess I should say, because games take me forever to design, After Luna is going to be a mixed reality kind of experience. So it'll involve virtual or augmented reality components, depending on how you play it. And I think as a designer, the thing that I'm so fascinated by is that your space is so personal to you and so important to you, and at the same time, When you put a virtual object in that space that you can see through a headset or through a phone, it becomes part of your memory of that space. And this is a huge responsibility for game designers. I had an experience a while back, actually, where I played an AR story game that had a violent component to it. And in that sort of storyline, something violent kind of happened or was implied over my right shoulder. And then when I took the headset off, every time I turned, I could kind of feel this sense of physical anxiety in my body because I didn't want to look where this thing had happened when the headset was on. And so that really struck me, that like, if you build an experience that brings sacredness, mindfulness, calmness, worship, spirituality, love, empathy, kindness, into someone's home, then that's what they're going to see when they come home, even if they don't have the headset on. And if you bring an experience that has aggression, fear, hatefulness, revenge, stress into that same space, that's going to be what they see when they come home, even if they don't have the headset on. And I think this is really, it's a very, very important thing to consider. right now for people that want to work in AR and VR and eventually what I think will be called just like mixed reality, you know, or merged reality, however you want to say it. We really need to take responsibility for the kinds of things that we're packing into people's heads because they're going to become actual memories. Your physical memory cannot disambiguate between the virtual and the real in that context. And as we evolve as humans, There's a lot of ways in which that can be positive or negative. There's a lot of science fiction that's been written about that very subject, and I've read a lot of it because I'm very fascinated by the responsibility of game designers. My favorite series on this is actually Jodorowsky's Technopriests, and my favorite science fiction novel about it currently is Lady of Mazes, which gets at the idea that once computers can control your reality and you have nanomatter and you can have virtual space all the time, people begin to lose their humanity because their humanity is based on actually suffering and feeling real pain and that suffering is the nature of humanity and once you can kind of isolate yourself from suffering and be completely enclosed in a simulated environment, you cease to be human, which I think is really interesting.

[00:08:35.248] Kent Bye: Yeah, I mean, it's really fascinating to hear that, because I have different metaphors of describing what you're talking about, which is just using the yin and the yang. The yang is very aggressive, competitive, and the yin is much more receptive. You're trying to bring harmony and receive. Rather than put your energy out, which is much more yang, it's much more receptive. So much of the video games right now with agency. It's about this expression of agency It's like you're exerting your will into the world But yet so much of the both virtual and augmented reality is about that reception of that embodiment as well as emotional presence And so I feel like because so much of the games are in the 2d and these abstracted expressions of agency We get a lot of violence, but yet when you start to bring that into the body I'm just I guess somewhat concerned that all these augmented reality games that are focused on the violence, but I have faith that those are not going to be the things that are going to be ultimately compelling for people. But yet, at the same time, that's where the money is, that's what's getting funded, that's what we're seeing. And so, where do we go from here based upon where we're at? And then, I guess, from your perspective, it sounds like you're just trying to create an example of that to show people. But yet, how do you convince them to completely change their paradigm to something that is based upon shooting things and killing things versus creating a vibe or reception of harmony and love? And is that a fun game?

[00:09:55.745] Robin Hunicke: The funnest game on the planet is having sex. Having sexual encounters, cuddling, kissing, intimacy, romance. We are all obsessed with it. We do it constantly. We have built many apps and many websites and many shows and many romance novels. that are about the experience of falling in love and being close with other people. Every human being on the planet on some level craves some sense of intimacy and care. And so it's funny to me that games so often are at the opposite end of the spectrum where you're vanquishing people and ending their lives. I think that's an operational reality of what it is easy to do in a video game. It is easy to create a projectile and move it through 3D space and have it explode somewhere else and then have something react. I really believe that our inability to create intimacy between you and a virtual character, our ability to create intimacy between you and strangers online, is directly proportional to our inability to imagine those experiences as designers, and I see that this is a huge challenge for us as designers. It's so easy. to think of a game where there's a ramping level of difficulty and a ramping set of enemies and you get ramping level of power by which you vanquish them in a ramping series of events. Like, that is the easiest game to imagine and anyone who has ever come to one of my classes or written me an email about a video game they want to make, like, I would say 99% of those pitches are that design. It is the basic design. Almost like the basic first thing you make for someone who comes over to your house is like a spaghetti. You know, you're like, well, I can cook some pasta and heat up some sauce. So come to my house and have some spaghetti. Like maybe make a garlic bread or a salad. It's like really exciting, right? Like, you know, that's ground zero. Hey, you can eat it and it might be delicious and the conversation might be scintillating, especially if you pair it with a delicious Chianti, but it is not fine dining. It is not like I made you a souffle or here's a handmade croissant, which by the way, it takes 18 hours to make a croissant the right way. Like there's a lot of craft that goes into making games that are unique and that create connection between people that explore ideas of intimacy and empathy and romance and connection and we don't do it because it's expensive. It's hard to do research real time on a game because you have to build all these systems and put them together and see if they work. So, you know, I get why investment is towards the thing that people know how to do. But, you know, there's that funny graphic that's going around right now. It's like a screenshot of the top downloadable mobile titles and games. And it's literally every single picture on the entire screen is like a guy in a helmet screaming like they're all Clash of Clans clones. And it's just like, No human being looks at that grid of clones and goes, oh yeah, these are all really equally amazing games. Nobody does that. Everyone's like, well, I guess I'll just go to the top left, because that's the game that everyone's playing. And every other one of those is just people trying to see if any of those other ones are any good. Just below those, just below those, just below those, maybe at the very bottom of that list is something that's genuinely interesting, but they're never going to get up over the fold. And I think that this is something that we need to do as designers, but especially as curators. I think people, honestly, Google, for example, has done a really good job with the Iowa Awards of showcasing titles that aren't just successful, but they are also made by diverse teams. They impact on a diverse number of issues. They had an award category here this year that was about accessibility. Literally, these are the apps that help people with accessibility needs be more productive, more independent, more connected in their societies. That's an amazing award category. It's on the head of the platform holders and the people that support us to really showcase this amazing work that's being done and innovative work, not just in gameplay, but in thinking about what real humans need.

[00:14:02.792] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on Pokemon Go, because it seems like that's a game where it started to tap into maybe like this potential of using space in a new way, location-based entertainment, getting people out, exercising, being embodied in a way, and interacting with other people, having sort of serendipitous connections with people. But yet it's still the gameplay of, like you said, you're vanquishing these Pokemons. You're capturing them. So it's the same sort of mechanic, but yet they're using space to annotate space in a way that they're already kind of capturing the really hot spots for people to go to. And it allows you to kind of explore your world. So from that, from a game design perspective and the principles that you're looking at to try to extrapolate that into your designs that may be on either a household scale or room scale or a potential world scale.

[00:14:52.010] Robin Hunicke: Yeah, I think that the thing about something like Pokemon Go is it opens the door for a creative designer to go, all right, sure. You went to your local coffee shop or you walked down the street to your friend's house and you found this cool Charbinger or whatever it is. That's great. Now what you want to do is you want to actually engage in a mystery or here's a series of mysterious magical objects that you can find in this world. What do they mean? Like it starts to become the beginning of a genre of games in which you explore physical space to do something, right? And you have to take that lead as a designer and go, okay, well, Instead of making a Pokemon Go clone, which I mean, why would you even do it, right? Like Pokemons, everybody's like, oh, you know, I mean, they just win with the cute art styles and the cute names. But rather to go, OK, well, what's a game that has that same quality of discovery? Because that's what that really is, emergent discovery and kind of the excitement or the thrill of like hunting. and then turns it on its ear. Maybe you're hunting, but then the things that you find, they might actually do harm to you. You might find things that weaken you. You might find things that are heavy to carry, and in order to get them to the next place, it really reduces your movement points. There's all kinds of stuff you could do where you think about the space of exploration, and then you turn it on its side. And I always encourage my students to do this, and other designers and developers, when they come to me and say, how do I come up with a good idea? I say, think about something that you know is popular. look at the mechanics, figure out what the dynamical sort of interactions are that create like a dynamics in the system. Like figure out, okay, like this game, like poker, you know, poker's popular because it has these rules. The rules don't say you gotta bluff, but people bluff. And then when they win, after bluffing, they feel smart. And so like poker makes you feel smart if you win. And if you lose, you figure like, well, the guy's probably a liar. So you don't feel so bad. Now maybe he wasn't lying, maybe he was, but you didn't ask. So next time you get a little bolder. And then if you win, you feel smart, right? It's a game about procedurally creating triumph over this other person. Think about that as a designer. Unravel the mechanics and the dynamics of that game and then ask yourself, OK, well, if I wanted to change the outcome, the aesthetic outcome of this game, how would I do it with different mechanics or different dynamics? How would I make the game feel different? This is what a game designer does. And like, it's not what a marketing person does. It's not what a business development person does. It's not what a studio head does. It's what a designer does. And I think this is the question is like, how do we get more designers into the roles that influence how money is spent, influence how money is invested, because designers understand that what makes a game good is not that it looks like all other games or that it plays like all other games, but that it does that little twist It's the same concept of what makes a good high-end restaurant great. A really good high-end restaurant is going to be serving you the same ingredients that you could get at a medium-range restaurant, but they're going to be combining them in interesting flavors. Like I went to a place with my friend Cami the other day and we had caviar and banana. I've never eaten caviar on a banana, and I can tell you, it's fucking awesome. Like, it was really good. And like, these are two flavors that you would never put together, and yet, bam, it was delicious, you know? And like, this is one of those things where you pay for the market price for the caviar and the banana plus 20%, or in some cases, 50%, because that guy thought a lot about caviar. And it's like his job is to think about it. And the minute that it gets out, I mean, maybe I'm ruining it for him, but like, you know, the minute it gets out, suddenly everyone's going to be doing it. But like those kinds of unique ideas in restauranting and in fashion, they can't be patented. And in games, they can't be patented. And so we need to really value that kind of innovation at a deep level. And it's not something that the funding systems do right now. I mean, I don't know, maybe what I'm saying is that like, we should just crush capitalism and give up and start over and like, that the whole idea that how much money you earn from a job, you know, it's never really going to fulfill you the way that making something really creative will. I mean, maybe that's what I'm saying. Like, maybe on a fundamental level, I believe that we live in a culture that encourages you to equate yourself with the amount of money you're making as opposed to the amount of creativity you experience in your daily life or the amount of connection that you experience in your daily life. And that's totally stupid because when you die, you can't take your money with you. And when you're sick in your bed, your money's not going to come and hold your hand. Maybe that's what I'm saying, but maybe what I'm also saying is that there's an opportunity right now for people that have a little bit of money and are designers and understand design to find the little teams that are going to make a huge difference and give them enough power to actually make a lot of money because that kind of money turns into virtuous money that gets spent on more and more interesting projects, you know. And I think that virtuous cycle of indies funding other indies, indies helping other indies over pay gaps, indies supporting other indies and introducing them to publishers who can support them, that's the thing that has made indie games successful so far, and I think that's what's going to make indie VR sort of successful. I mean, I hate to say it already, but like I feel like what we're really talking about is the difference between commercial VR and indie VR. And I really was kind of hoping that that wasn't going to happen. But it does seem that that's the case.

[00:20:03.389] Kent Bye: Yeah, I just did an interview with Cory Doctorow, his latest sci-fi book, Walk Away, which is essentially like these market economies are not working for most people. It's making the rich richer and the poor poorer. And that in the book, he has people essentially walk away and create a gift economy, just completely go greenfield and just abandon our legacy systems and start new systems. In the wrap-up of that podcast, I was basically saying like in VR you could start to potentially create VR experiments of these type of gift economies, but that there's different models that are out there. There's Kickstarter, there's patronage, there's Patreon, you know, there's like user-funded where people, but a lot of this yen currency is based upon like reputation, social currency, it's about information, reputation, you know, but Sometimes it's hard to monetize that, but I feel like that's where we're going. It's hard to actually just completely abandon legacy systems, because at the end of the day, you still have to interface with society, and you still have to pay for food and rent and everything. So there's like a hybrid that I'm thinking of, like, what does that look like to be able to do both? That's what I'm...

[00:21:05.085] Robin Hunicke: These are really deep questions. I mean, I'm a real fan of stamp-backed currency, which is basically money that loses value if it isn't repurposed within society so that you can't hoard money and have it basically gain interest forever. It's effectively negative interest. So the people who have money have to invest in other people in order to make that money valuable. I'm also a huge fan of the idea of a sustainable local economy where the money gets circulated because it's stamp-backed and because it's easier to circulate stamp-backed currency locally, which is what happens when currency systems break down. Historically, When currency systems break down, people create a trust economy that's based on, if I do this for you, you do this for me. And we're really good at doing this. That's our roots. Money is the only thing on the planet that does not rot. It's the only thing on the planet that doesn't devalue. It's the only thing on the planet that you can hoard forever and still win. It's a fundamental flaw. I mean, there's a reason that Jesus said that the money changes were the problem. Like, it is a very, very false, not real construction of humanity. And the idea that money is what makes someone happy, I mean, the Beatles said it's best, right? Money can't buy you love. Like, we all know that at the end of the day, When we're done playing our game or watching our show or making the meal or like, you know petting the dog Whatever we're doing that we want to be able to reach out to a friend or a colleague or someone that we love And say you know what this is what I did today. I want you to value me you reflect my value I reflect your value and then we just say that we're grateful for each other in this life and like this is like it's so basic and so dumb that it feels kind of Weird to even say it out loud but like connection is the meaning of why you're on the planet like you could gotten Reincarnated as a dog you could be a plant you could be your molecules could be in bark or in a car's headlight you could be in anything right now and you're in a human body like you got ears you're listening to me talk like It's a unique opportunity in the space of time that all the molecules of you are together as you right now. And that's such an auspicious opportunity. You could do so much good with that body. It doesn't have to be game design. You could be making music. You could be teaching people how to dance. You could be volunteering for the blind. You could be being an amazing chef that invents fucking banana and caviar. That's amazing. You know, like whatever you're doing, like, Whatever you're doing, it's like totally awesome that you're doing it. And I think a lot of times we discount our performance, we discount our abilities, we discount what we do because it's not valued by this very specific type of system. But that system isn't very, very ancient and it isn't really that healthy. So I think, you know, a lot of the things I'm talking about are more about exploring art and making interesting things as opposed to trying to get rich and be famous. It's not really real. There's a famous sort of Buddhist notion that there's the ocean and then there's the waves. And if you pay attention to the waves, you think like, my life is insane. Oh my God, everything's insane. Everything's chaos. But if you actually pay attention to the ocean, Like, the ocean is omnipresent. Like, your intelligence, your presence, your awareness is omnipresent. And you aren't the waves, you're the ocean. And like, if we can learn to think about the things that we contribute to the world as being part of this ocean as opposed to the waves, I think it makes a huge difference in the way that you sort of think about like, well, what is really the success criteria for our project? And so like, that's why I like the work of Kibibo. I like to see, you know, these independent developers who come out Like Michael Bro with Imbroglio. I love to see these games that are just like purely about exploring the art form of games as opposed to being like, well, I'm gonna get rich. It's fine. Like you could make the next MOBA, but who's really out there in the blue ocean pushing against the boundaries of what the medium is? can make so I mean I don't know I always say this and it's probably like a broken record but like just do something different like do what you want to do do something that feels good like don't arbitrarily put the caps on it that says it has to be X Y or Z or I have to be able to pitch to these people I mean like Stardew Valley didn't get pitched to anybody and it's amazing Minecraft didn't get pitched to anybody and it's amazing and those those are huge success stories not everybody has that but you know Even Dwarf Fortress. I mean, Mushroom 11, which won an award tonight, like, the first time I ever saw that. It was when it was submitted to Experimental Gameplay Workshop as a personal project of one guy. So, you know, it's just, there's a lot of really good games out there waiting to be made, and they're in your heads. I mean, I would just say, like, make them.

[00:25:20.021] Kent Bye: So, what do you want to experience in either virtual reality or augmented reality?

[00:25:24.564] Robin Hunicke: Intimacy. Just, I really want to spend time with people. I want to see more awesome social games.

[00:25:29.787] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality or augmented reality and what it might be able to enable?

[00:25:37.725] Robin Hunicke: I just think that we can learn to experience different things in this space and to assume different perspectives on our lives. Not just empathy and namaste, people say that all the time, but to really understand the embodied feeling of rage, the embodied feeling of rejection, the embodied feeling of being at the level of having to make a lot of decisions and not knowing which one is right. There are a lot of things that we can do to transform our experience to the level of an animal in a slaughterhouse, to the level of a child in a war-torn country. There's a lot of ways in which we can reframe the way that we see the world by getting away from our own egos and our own narratives and our own storylines. There are so many amazing speakers that talk about this. Pema Chodron, Tara Breach, there's so many. There are a lot of really great people that talk a lot about the experience of getting away from your discursive thoughts and your narrative mind. I think that being totally embodied in an experience allows you to disengage your own mental critic and your own mental principle and kind of experience what the world is like for other people. And I think that that's amazing.

[00:26:41.843] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, thank you so much.

[00:26:43.324] Robin Hunicke: Oh, great. Thanks for having me. It's great to see you here. It was a surprise and it's always a pleasure to talk to you.

[00:26:49.068] Kent Bye: Awesome. So that was Robin Haneke of Phenomena, and they created World, which won the Best AR Experience at the Google Play Awards. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, I think that what Robin is talking about of creating intimacy with virtual characters are an ability to do that with these levels of abstraction that we've used to have with these gamepad controllers where you essentially had like buttons. So the extent of your expression when you have these buttons is shooting projectiles. And part of cultivating intimacy with other characters is the ability to speak and to be understood and to understand other people. So in some ways, there's a level in which artificial intelligence and natural language processing is going to open up completely new paradigms of interacting with other characters. But in the interim, one of the things that I'm really seeing within the virtual reality community is that instead of doing that with other characters I'm starting to see things like Star Trek Bridge Crew where you're actually playing this role-playing game where you're cooperating with other people in order to fight other enemies. So you're still vanquishing the enemies but you're doing it within the context of having to collaborate and communicate with these other team members such that you have to have these different tasks that each of the people on the Star Trek ship that you're each able to do. But the other subtext here is that there is a certain amount of where the funding is coming from and what types of projects are being funded and they tend to be these big projects that are very good graphics but still at the heart of it are about vanquishing enemies. And it's a lot of these smaller independent creators like Kibibo or Phenomena that are starting to create some of these alternative gaming paradigms that is more about building a relationship with other people or the environment or doing other different interaction designs that doesn't have to do with killing an enemy. And I think Robin is making a very important point here when it comes to augmented reality, because in virtual reality spaces, you're kind of being taken into this completely other world. So those memories that you have within that world are contained within that context. But with augmented reality, you have a level of embodied cognition such that when you're in an environment, it's bringing back the memories of things that happened in that environment. And when you start to bring in all sorts of aggression, hatred, fear, or death, then Robin was reporting on her own direct experience of how that was psychologically affecting her, such that when she was in that space again, she was remembering this dark memory. And so for Robin, she's way more interested in creating this sense of sacredness and mindfulness, calmness, worship, spirituality, love, empathy, kindness, and a whimsical sense of joy in your environment. So she's trying to add that into your experience with this augmented reality games. And I think she really pulls that off with world. I had a chance to play through and have somebody who had played through the game kind of showed me some other highlights while I was at Google IO. And you're essentially placing these very cute objects throughout the world and she said it's kind of like a grow game. So these characters are evolving and changing over time and you have to get them to interact in some ways. So you may put a cloud and the cloud may rain on the plant and the plant grows and then you know there's other objects that you place that need to have some combination of other objects interacting with it in order for it to kind of unlock the next level of the puzzle and the story that's unfolding. And it was just delightful. It was cute. And the people that I was talking to at Google I.O. just all were completely delighted with their experience with this game. And so I think that in some ways is the type of experiences that augmented reality in particular is going to be very well suited for. But it's a game design challenge such that there's got to be new paradigms that are pushing the limits into the extent to which we are interacting with each other and with the world. And so it sounds like it's a matter of imagination and creativity, but also a funding. Funding is a huge part that Robin is talking about here. And there are challenges and where capital is flowing and the values by which the capital is flowing to and what is being funded. This is an interview that I did with Robin right before I went to go talk to Kyle Russell of Andreessen Horowitz. And it's after I had connected this interview with Cory Doctorow. And so there's just been a number of different interviews that are talking about more underlying fundamental operating system of our society, which is this primarily a young competitive currency. And Robin's really pushing back and saying, you know, despite the fact that whatever you're doing may not be being rewarded by money, you could still participate in the world by adding your creativity and love and connection and beauty into the world. And that, you know, it's possible as an independent creator that you will be supported by other independent minded patrons of that type of work. It means that if you find these types of experiences that you enjoy, then tell your friends and spread the word about them, and have the indies support the other indies. So for anybody who has a Tango phone, I highly recommend you check out World from Phenomena. And if you're creating these types of alternative paradigm games, then drop me a note. I'm really interested in seeing what's out there, what people are doing, how they're experimenting in this way. 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 enjoyed the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends and become a donor. Just a few dollars a month makes a huge difference and allows me to continue to bring you this type of coverage. So you can donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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