VR Creators are Morally Obligated to Scare the Hell out of Everyone

A still from The Brookhaven Experiment.

Why do we like scary entertainment? Psychologists have come up with a number of theories, including a need for catharsis, a curiosity for abnormal behavior, and a heightened sense of empathy for protagonists when they triumph over something evil. As someone whose adolescence was marked by a steady diet of Stephen King novels, I think our attraction to distractions that frighten us has something to do with coping with real-world horrors. Continue reading

We Interrupt this VR Blog to Geek Out on Metallica

220px-metallica_hardwired-_to_self-destruct_2016I first heard Metallica in 1985 or ’86 on a Sony Walkman in the back of the bus on the way home from school. The Walkman belonged to this kid named Zack who had a hideous case of athlete’s foot. My memory of hearing “Creeping Death” for the first time is forever fused with the sight and smell of the rotting flesh on Zack’s toes. This strikes me as a proper introduction to the world’s greatest thrash metal band.

It’s thirty years later and Metallica just dropped their tenth proper album, Hardwired… to Self Destruct. Released in the week after the 2016 presidential election, this feels like the first time the band’s apocalyptic vibe jives with the zeitgeist. From the beginning, they’ve assumed the pose of outsiders and musical contrarians, indulging in intricate, doom-obsessed song suites that often last long enough to kill a whole six-pack. Their biggest hit, “Enter Sandman” came out during the musical renaissance of the early nineties, when “alternative” became a genre unto itself and Metallica weirdly found themselves more or less occupying the mainstream.

On the title song of the new album, James Hetfield barks out what might be the band’s dumbest sounding yet most culturally spot-on lyrics of their career.

We’re so fucked!
Shit outa luck!
Hard wired to self-destruct!

Driving around in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, I found myself nodding, thinking, yeah, that sounds about right. Continue reading

Welcome Correspondents Amanda Knox and Christopher Robinson

Chris Robinson and Amanda Knox

Last spring I started writing about Seattle’s VR/AR industry on this little blog with a self-deprecating name. I often feel like a small town reporter, following the goings-on of a passionate and growing community of VR pioneers. I’m having a blast doing this, and it’s time for this little operation to grow.

So I’m thrilled to announce that this blog just got a little more professional with the addition of correspondents Amanda Knox and Chris Robinson. Amanda will serve as our Chief Empath and Chris will serve as Philosopher-at-Large.

Chris and Amanda recently co-wrote an inventive and insightful essay for this blog about Machine to Be Another. In coming weeks and months they’ll both be submitting regular reports, reviews, and critical essays on the Seattle immersive media industry and VR in general. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have these accomplished authors on board, and I know I’m going to learn a lot from their reporting and thought leadership.

A little more about Amanda and Chris…

Chief Empath – Amanda Knox
51yq3fyelAmanda Knox is an exoneree, criminal justice advocate, and writer. After spending nearly four years in prison and eight years on trial for a murder she didn’t commit, she wrote a memoir, Waiting to Be Heard (HarperCollins, April 2013). Her journalism has been published in USA Today, the Seattle Times, and Seattle Magazine. Amanda is currently working to spread awareness of wrongful conviction issues through VR, TV, and print media. She also writes a weekly column for the West Seattle Herald. She lives in Seattle with her partner, Chris Robinson.

Philosopher-at-Large – Chris Robinson

51VCAj3d3YL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgChris Robinson is a novelist and poet. He is the co-author, with Gavin Kovite, of War of the Encyclopaedists  (Scribner, 2015) which received glowing reviews in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Esquire. His work has appeared in such publications as Salon.comNew England Review, the Kenyon Review, and McSweeney’s online. He has written about virtual reality and artificial intelligence for Bright Ideas Magazine. He is a recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Millay Colony, and Bread Loaf. Chris has an MA in poetry from Boston University and an MFA from Hunter College. He lives in Seattle with his partner, Amanda Knox.

Welcome, Chris and Amanda, to Ryanboudinotisahack.com!



The Ecosystem Directory

I’m compiling a directory of all the VR/AR/immersive media companies and organizations in the greater Puget Sound area for seattlevr.us. I’m calling this directory the Ecosystem. I could use your help to make sure it’s useful.

First, let me know if you don’t see a company/org that you feel belongs in the directory.

Second, let me know your thoughts on the most useful way to display information on this page.

I’m thinking each link needs a brief descriptor of what the company/org does. Particularly in the “Companies-Other” section.

The ecosystem is growing by the day. I appreciate any and all feedback as we grow this resource. Thanks, everyone!


MoCap Now: Another Piece in the Cascadia Immersive Media Puzzle

MoCap Now’s main motion capture space. Ander Bergstrom with his back to the camera, and Sixr’s Budi Mulyo, looking slightly blurry. I admit this is a pretty lousy photo. Sorry about that.

Anything could hide behind a battered warehouse door in Sodo–trapeze artists, a machine shop, a reprographics facility, an industrial bakery. Last week I pulled aside one such door on Dawson Street and found myself in a motion capture studio called MoCap Now. Continue reading

The Lay of the Land

Morning at CoMotion Labs. It’s still early.

I’m editing a directory of Seattle VR/AR companies and organizations for the Seattlevr.us community website. I’m positive that I’m missing some key players, so if you’re reading this and don’t see your organization listed, please contact me posthaste.

I think we can all agree that the Seattle VR scene is vibrant and growing. In the past week I’ve heard from people in LA and Helsinki who are well aware of the bubbling cauldron of immersive tech that’s happening in Puget Sound. As I write this, groggy developers are stumbling in to CoMotion Labs looking caffeine-deprived. Most everybody in this coworking space has kept the Husky-purple signs that were posted on our desks for the recent open house. Looking around the room I can see names of companies that I haven’t yet spent enough time getting to know: Timbre Interactive, Hocus Focus Productions, Fearless 360. Most days I feel that I can’t possibly keep up with everything going on in this industry in Seattle. Continue reading