The Recipe for VR Content is Posted on a Wall at MoPop

Yesterday, as I was wandered through MoPop‘s Nirvana exhibit for, oh, the hundredth time, I spotted the following list of Ingredients for a Thriving Local Music Scene, posted on a wall:

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The museum refreshes the exhibit enough that I always find something new to focus on in their hall of Kurt, Chris, and Dave. This new wall display immediately lit up the pleasure centers of my brain as I saw distinct parallels between MoPop’s presentation of the ingredients of a thriving local music scene and what’s bubbling up right now in Seattle’s VR community. Continue reading “The Recipe for VR Content is Posted on a Wall at MoPop”

Parsing the Magic Leap Schadenfreude

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Ms. Knowles-Carter was here.

I’ve noticed that a significant number of VR pioneers react to bad PR from Oculus and Magic Leap with glee. The Germans came up with a word for taking pleasure in another person’s suffering, schadenfreude. Most of us indulge in it from time to time, as when we revel in the career stumbles of various celebrities, make jokes about politicians’ gaffes, or chuckle when someone slips on a banana peel. It’s part of human nature.

Yesterday, The Verge ran a story with the provocative title, Beyoncé reportedly tried Magic Leap, and thought it was boring. Eva Hoerth posted the link on Facebook and the comments filled up with digs at the secretive company. (Incidentally, I have learned that  Beyoncé tried the device at the Georgetown Magic Leap offices during a recent Seattle tour stop.) Continue reading “Parsing the Magic Leap Schadenfreude”

Are You Looking for VR/AR Jobs in Seattle?

Last week’s VReality event at Microsoft’s Building 99 in Redmond. About a third of this audience raised their hands when asked if they’re looking for a job in the VR/AR industry.


Every morning, sometimes before I even roll out of bed, I check my email for my Indeed.com VR jobs alert. They come time-stamped around 6am, with subject lines like “4 new virtual reality jobs in Seattle, WA.” Here are a few of the listings I’ve seen recently:

Program Manager, Oculus Education

UX Designer, HBO

Technical Artist, Daydream (Google)

User Experience Designer – Virtual Reality (HTC)

Autism Research Fellowship, Seattle Children’s Hospital

Analyst – Advanced Concepts, Blue Origin

I’ve been paying attention to VR job listings since March of last year. At that time I discovered that a startup in Fremont called Pixvana was hiring software engineers. I suspected that in time, companies like Pixvana would start hiring for more non-technology related positions. At some point these companies would need marketers and other creative minds to communicate their technology to the world.

I still think that’s going to happen, but most of the VR job listings I see are still related to coding, engineering, UX, and testing. Chris Hegstrom, who recently worked on HBO’s Westworld VR experience, characterized the state of VR jobs in Seattle with a handy metaphor, saying, “If 2016 was the year of opening all the VR presents on Christmas morning, 2017 is the year of rolling up our sleeves and assembling the content. We spent last year looking at the marketing image on the box & imagining what it will be like once completed but there was more conjecture than actual building. This year is all about opening up the box, scanning the instruction manual & hoping we have the correct tools & batteries (& we don’t have to steal them from the emergency flashlight!) Because of this, we’ll see more jobs around content creation and VR production design opposed to research and experimentation.”

I hope Chris is right. And I’ll be curious to see where these content and production jobs come from, whether from the startup community or from the big players.

Continue reading “Are You Looking for VR/AR Jobs in Seattle?”

2016: The Year Seattle Embraced Virtual and Augmented Reality

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Trond Nilsen addressing the September VR Hackathon

Ed: This post was made possible by the mad compiling and organization skills of Eva Hoerth and Kayla Didier.

As we pull the curtains on 2016, we’re coming to a consensus that this was a horrible, no-good, rotten, very bad year. We lost cherished icons and elevated a reality star bigot to the office of President of the United States. Terrorism, refugee crises, Brexit, and other calamities flowed through our news feeds amid fake news concocted by Russian spies, climate change deniers, and white supremacists. And yet a bright spot appeared this year, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, with the emergence of the virtual and augmented reality industry. Continue reading “2016: The Year Seattle Embraced Virtual and Augmented Reality”

Eva Hoerth Wants to Know About Your VR/AR Community

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This is what Eva Hoerth looks like all the time.

One of Seattle’s most engaging advocates for virtual and augmented reality, Eva Hoerth, just posted this open-ended Q&A on Facebook, asking for feedback about building local VR/AR communities. I just filled out the questionaire myself, and thought I’d share my answers here.

What inspired you to go from enthusiast to community builder?

I went through grunge and the dotcom years and saw how creative economies emerge and bloom. Last spring when I attended my first VR meetup in Seattle, I felt the same way I used to feel in the mosh pits of the early nineties and on the customer service floor at Amazon–that something momentous and world-changing was just getting started. I’ve done community building projects in the past, and I’ve found that much of what motivates a scene like ours is expanding the sense of what’s possible, empowering the amateur enthusiasts to understand they have real influence over the direction of the industry, and cultivating a DIY attitude. I was inspired by the sheer diversity of people attracted to immersive media. Getting to rub shoulders with architects, computer scientists, musicians, game designers, filmmakers, and so many other fascinating sorts of people is massively appealing to me. Continue reading “Eva Hoerth Wants to Know About Your VR/AR Community”

All Aboard the Bullet Train Roller Coaster

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Watching the Oculus Connect event at VREAL

Back in the late nineties, I found myself riding the dotcom roller coaster when I started a customer service job at Amazon, back when all they sold was books. It was my first corporate job out of college and I proceeded to jump from Amazon to Drugstore.com, to Microsoft, to an online education startup, back to Amazon, then to Expedia, with a contract for Netflix along the way. I remember the excitement of that era, when CEOs would say things like, “If we can corner just one percent of the national market for Q-Tips, we’ll be a billion dollar company in a year!”

The reality industries right now remind me so much of the early dotcom era. Except this time it’s not just a roller coaster we’re riding. It’s a bullet train version of a roller coaster. Continue reading “All Aboard the Bullet Train Roller Coaster”

The Weekend VR Became Impossible to Ignore in Seattle

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Trond Nilsen presenting awards at Seattle VR Hackathon IV. Photo courtesy Shawn Whiting.

September 16-18, 2016 was a watershed moment for Seattle’s VR/AR community. For anyone drawn to creating or experiencing VR/AR, there was literally too much for one person to absorb. VR Hackathon IV at Sand Point, the Art Hack on Capitol Hill, and the VR Maker Dome at Seattle Center all delivered big on the promise of this new medium, and Seattle is never going to be the same. Continue reading “The Weekend VR Became Impossible to Ignore in Seattle”

Midnight Thoughts on Seattle’s VR Community

Eva Hoerth just posted on Facebook that the first Seattle VR hackathon drew 30 participants, and this one, the fourth, has drawn 180. Everyone here seems to have a conversion story about the first time they tried VR and decided to become part of this. Everybody is excited to have discovered this world-building technology. Human beings invent things and discover things. It’s rare that an … Continue reading Midnight Thoughts on Seattle’s VR Community

Three Announcements

[Drum roll…] Announcement #1: New editor role I’m proud to report I’ve been named Editor-in-Chief of Seattle’s VR/AR community website, seattlevr.us, which was launched last summer by Trond Nilsen and Eva Hoerth. I first met Eva and Trond at the Hololens Hackathon last spring, and I’ve been consistently blown away by their commitment to Seattle’s VR/AR community, their heroic level of energy, and their sincere … Continue reading Three Announcements