Maximum PC: I saw a bunch of fish and manta rays swim around me and it felt extremely polished and immersive. This felt much more real than the Ocean Rift demo on the DK2. But the real kicker came when a giant blue whale swam by the ship and looked at me. I felt like I was on an alien planet, and basically just kept on smiling and nodding my head as if to suggest to myself, “Yep, you guys have done it.”
Rockpapershotgun: It stopped and I stepped to the left to align myself with its eye, larger than my head. I stared into it and became aware again of my physical presence in the real world: I was smiling. A big, open-mouthed, toothy grin had spread uncontrollably across my face as I made eye contact with such an amazing creature, and I felt giddy as it swam on, its fin and tail swooping past my face.
Things I Do & Did:
I've exhibited personal work at IndieCade @ E3, IndieCade 2014, Dev/Pulse, GDC, Giant Robot and VRLA. In 2015 I gave a talk at IndieCade's IndieExchange about how we Crowdfunded Aegis Defenders.
In 2016, I was on a panel with Alex Schwarz, Tyler Hurd, Pat Hackett and Curtis Hickman at the inaugural VRDC @ GDC 2016. We discussed Design Lessons for Roomscale VR to a standing-room-only crowd.
In 2017, I spoke at the Themed Entertainment Association's conference about bringing Game Design into the physical world.
In 2018 talked to the entirety of the Fox media empire about our VR Studio and have given talks inside of FoxNext about storytelling in VR and designing for VR play.
In 2019 I attended Falling Water's Immersive Design Residency among a cohort of other incredible VR designers, thinkers and enthusiasts.
Things We Won:
theBlu: Season One won a Proto Award in 2016 theBlu VR won two ProtoAwards in 2015. Aegis Defenders raised over $140,00 on Kickstarter in 2015 Anamnesis was nominated for Most Amaz.ing game at Ama.ze 2014
Times I got Smart: I have an MFA from USC's Interactive Media & Games Division I have a BFA from Juniata College in English & Philosophy
The Rest: My story begins with the Commodore 64. I was two or three years old and my Dad was a bit of a computer nerd, so we always had a computer around. Unlabeled floppy disks ('*' quickly became my favorite command) held the wonders of Karateeka- a game I never quite grokked, but adored for it's strangeness- or Moppets. There were dozens of unlabeled games I can barely remember, but I got set up to game at a young age.
An IBM 386 taught me the strange Zen of Sierra's sadomasochistic adventure games (HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW NOT TO EAT THE PIE) and the lighter, more off beat joy of LucasArts. For a time, the release of a new MegaMan game was practically a holiday around our house and if you plumb the depths of our VHS collection you can find the highlight of Christmas 1989 to be the unveiling of a Turbo-enabled joystick.
Time passed and I kept gaming, but as I got a little older I decided I'd rather be an artiste than a code slave. In the fine tradition of starry-eyed and naive young men I went to college and came out clutching a degree in English & Philosophy, not a clue in the world what I wanted to do. I worked a desk job at an Elevator Repair union, I taught nutrition to kids in the inner city. I left New York to follow a girl and spent a season scooping ice cream with a Master's candidate, wondering if we were America's most over educated ice cream scooping duo. I crammed myself into a tiny coat closet in Bed-Stuy for a sweltering summer. I left New York again and spent another season flipping burgers.
And through it all, I'm still gaming. In a particularly embarrassing encounter, I get food poisoning, but BioShock comes out so I wander a mile and a half on a blazing Illinois summer day to acquire it. The air conditioning is broken, but I play it on a tiny, 8" TV anyway. I finish the game, but break the XBox.
I get my first real job doing marketing & web development for a small, gourmet Peanut Butter company. It was fine for awhile, but clearly not the thing I wanted to be doing. And yet, it restored my love of programming. But I still wanted to travel, so I packed off to Seoul, Korea to teach English. Hilarity ensued! Two English words every Korean kid knows: Starcraft, Minecraft. I spent two years there and used it as an excuse to see the world. During the second year I bumped into a pair of expats who worked at a Korean game design studio. We became friends and soon I started wondering: Isn't that what I wanted to do a long time ago? And so I got down to teaching myself to code again. I started volunteering for any festival that'd have me. I'd never been happier.
It's a weird thing to find your passion after hopping around for so long, you keep waiting for it to turn on you. The writer Gideon Lewis-Krause writes: "The main problem with desires is that they're not nearly as authoritative as we wish they were."
I left Seoul and moved to LA and spent some time designing games at an educational non-profit. I ran IndieCade's Volunteer Program. I've been to GDC and E3 and made friends with people I never dreamed I'd meet. I got my MFA at USC's legendary Interactive Media & Games Department. Now I make amazing VR with the crew at WEVR.
I'm interested in 2 things, specifically. One is the growing power of games and interactive media as a communicative form. For anyone under the age of, let's say, 20, game literacy - how to use a controller, how to interact with a system- is part and parcel with cultural literacy. People will begin to look to games and interactive experiences to teach them things, to be more than explosion simulators.
The other is the possibility for games to be an expressive medium, like poetry or cinema. With the cost of distribution falling through the floor and pro-level tools available for free, all kinds of artistically oriented creators are showing up and pushing games in new directions.
In short, we're standing right in the middle of the birth of a brand new medium. Nolan Bushnell & Al Alcorn installed PONG in the corner of Andy Capp's 40 years ago. But it's taken until now for the form to find it's possibilities, artistically and culturally. Its the most exciting field I could imagine being a part of and I'm thrilled to be in the middle of it.