We were excited to attend the VRAR Global Summit last week - and what an event it was! With VR and AR developers, creators, storytellers and high-tech enthusiasts all in attendance, it proved to be an ebullient and highly-engaging two days of XR innovation.
'The Changing Face of Education' Panel
On Day 2, our CSO and Co-Founder, Lee Brighton took to the stage on a panel discussing the future of VR and Education. Amongst the many themes, one of the key discussion topics explored the importance of having clear learning outcomes and goals when employing VR in learning.
Gaming in VR/AR - Where to Next?
Jordan Brighton, CEO and Founder, also joined the discussions in the afternoon to explore the topic, ‘VR/AR Gaming - Where to Next?’ It was great to see a ⅔ female panel, especially on the subject of ‘Gaming in VR.’ Each developer discussed the challenges of game development and what they see as VR’s biggest adoption challenges. There was a lot of emphasis on funding and creating experiences that will appeal to traditional gamers as well as VR gamers.
With such an incredible eco-system here in Vancouver, we’re delighted to have been a part of this year’s event and we're excited about the future of the industry!
Meet Robson: Your Robotic AI Companion
Robson the Robot
Looking at Robson here, you’d be right in your reaction (aww - am I right?). Robson however, might instigateeven more of an empathic reaction than most other robots...due to his newly integrated ‘artificial intelligence.’ Robson’s new familiar personality means that he’s the perfect fit as a trusty steed onboard Starship Argotian.
Let’s dig a little deeper into his character mechanics:
Who is he?
First and foremost, Robson is your personal assistant as you move about the open-world of Argotian - the starship with a language gameplay and conversation focus.
Why is he unique?
Robson is a robot powered by AI in a VR environment. This means that he is able to intelligently respond to you in real-time, whilst you are in the Argotian VR experience. Unlike any other 3D robot, Robson is able to go beyond set game parameters of a closed-world, and engage with you in spontaneous gameplay and conversation practice. In addition, he can also retrieve objects, interact with the environment, and open doors for you.
Where will I find him?
Being the loyal robot, you will find him right by your side as you enter gameplay. He’s also partial to helping you out during tricky moments of your language learning, so don’t be afraid to ask him for advice.
Check out the video below of Robson in development on our Argotian Facebook page. He’s still learning to stop being too literal, and embrace his figurative side. Just wait till he discovers sarcasm!
The Canadian Export Challenge 2018!
The Canadian Export Challenge
Virtro Entertainment is delighted to announce that we’ve been accepted into 2018’s Global Entrepreneur Cohort. The acceptance gives us access to a 1-day Global Accelerator in Vancouver on October 2nd, an opportunity that provides startups and other small businesses with the training and networking they need to take their company global.
We’re particularly excited about The Export Challenge Pitch Competition with the potential opportunity to pitch Virtro at Start-Up Day on the Hill on October 18th.
Wish us luck!
Honourable Minister Ng’s Roundtable on Supporting Small Business and Export Development.
Written by Lee Brighton - CSO, Virtro
The roundtable with the Honourable Mary Ng and Deputy Minister Paul Thompson
I love the fact that Canada is really listening. Yesterday, along with 15 other Vancouver businesses the Hon Minister Mary Ng and her team met with us all and the team from the Vancouver Economic Commission.
Our host Bryan Buggey, the acting CEO at The VEC and the Minister shared some amazing facts. Did you know that;
98% of businesses are small businesses across the country.
When you count in medium-sized businesses, that brings it to 99%.
Together, they employ 90% of our workforce in the private sectors making them the real job creators and elevating us to an integral part of the Canadian economy.
With that hearing, we began. In true Canadian style, everyone had the opportunity to speak and share their challenges and ways they felt that the government could improve the experience for small businesses in Vancouver. Mary Ng took an active interest and constantly opened the path for more suggestions and comments about the ways they could ameliorate current protocols and provide support
We threw in the challenges we faced having emigrated to Canada on a Start-Up Visa. We are seeking finance and investment to grow Virtro and Argotian our AI/VR conversational language learning platform. We had not factored into our thinking that emigrating to Canada would cause us to have a neutral credit score in arrival, equivalent to that of a recent grad. My financial concerns were met warmly by Mary Ng, who responded with her concern to include more financing support to help women in tech and immigrants with small businesses.
It is refreshing to meet people, real people who have faced the same challenges we have, and that has not only overcome them, but have paved the way for others to follow suit. Just another reason why I am glad to be in Vancouver and in Canada!
A Visit from The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship - The Honourable Ahmed Hussen
On Monday 20th August, the Virtro team were delighted to welcome The Honorable Ahmed Hussen to Virtro HQ. As the government minister for immigration in Canada, his visit was an honour for the company, especially since the StartUp visa granted founders Lee and Jordan Brighton Canadian Permanent Residency in 2016, in order to start their VR company, Virtro Entertainment.
Since Virtro’s launch on Canadian soil, the company has grown from strength to strength and is now a significant contributor to Vancouver’s robust and diverse XR ecosystem. Recently named as two of ‘BC’s Most Influential Women’ and with Virtro awarded ‘Ready to Rocket’ 2018 status, the Minister’s visit was significant in highlighting the achievements and contribution of immigrants coming into Canada and how the StartUp visa aids further employment of Canadian citizens.
We greatly enjoyed giving the Minister the first sneak peeks of our seminal VR and AI project, Argotian, a program utilizing AI technology and VR to provide an immersive language learning experience in real-time. With great potential to disrupt the way people learn a language, it was incredible to hear the Minister share in our same sentiments for Argotian’s future and envision its future social impact within schools and language learning institutions in Canada.
The Honourable Ahmed Hussen in a VR experience!
The Future of XR - Event Round Up
Rita Turkowski of Oculus and Oculus Start Members at 'The Future of XR' Siggraph 2018 Event
Wow, what a week!
Once again, Vancouver’s growing VR ecosystem never ceases to amaze us. With an abundance of industry leaders, game developers and VFX artists in town for Siggraph 2018, we thought it would be the perfect time to bring everyone together at Virtro HQ for an ‘industry’ meets ‘community’ mixer.
The Future of XR saw a stellar turnout, with industry leaders Oculus, Intel, Facebook, Unity and Huawei in attendance, plus great support from Vancouver’s very own VR group and indie gaming community. Our event provided an intimate space for indie gamers and local Oculus Start members to demo their newest projects, test their game concepts and receive constructive feedback from an engaged audience.
The CEO Panel
After a healthy time of playtesting and meet and greets, the night kicked off with our CEO panel. With such a diverse panel of full of industry experts, it was a great opportunity for all budding game developers and designers audience members to hear first hand what it’s like to work and create in the XR industry. A common theme ran through - the importance of feedback, market validation and XR community support.
Industry leaders, Carl D from Unity, David Nassau and Cindi Wiggin from Intel and Rita Turkowski from Oculus also took to the floor to announce their programs: The Student Ambassadorship Program, The Indie Dev Program and Oculus Start, respectively. These programs are an incredible resource for any indie dev and we implore you, or anyone who you think might be interested, to take advantage of such opportunities.
The XR Developer Panel
Our second panel of the evening was focused on XR development. Two of our company developers, Wan-Teen Yang and Noah Burkholder, graced the stage to discuss the VR projects that they are currently working on and the challenges of developing XR content. In addition, we were excited to have Ran Sieradzki, a fellow Oculus Start member, and Dan Miller, one of Unity’s XR evangelists to provide further insight into the industry.
The evening went long into the night, and a special mention must go to David Nassau from Intel, who naturally became chief game tester throughout the evening! Thank you to everyone for coming and to all the developers and industry experts for taking the time to engage with the community. We have an incredible ecosystem here in Vancouver, and we’d love to run more of these events to help support its growth in any way that we can!
Here’s what some of you had to say about our event - courtesy of Story Tap!
Intel’s Buzz Workshop — Seattle, Microsoft HQ
Team Virtro are no strangers to road trips and the 20th July was no exception. At 5 am, three devs and a marketer bundled into a car and hurtled to Seattle to participate inIntel’s Buzz Workshop; a bit of a GOAT event if you ask us.
Marketing and engagement made up the workshop’s overarching theme. The panel examining ‘Why Indie Games Fail’ provided a particularly insightful look into the precarious nature of influencer marketing, and how personalization and multiplayer abilities greatly contribute to improving UX. Another stand out performance came from Intel’s very own Patrick de Freitas, whose reinforcement of the 4 P’s of marketing (Product, Price, Promotion, Place) certainly gave us the proverbial ‘power-up’ we needed to plan and execute a successful launch!
John Comes, Christopher Floyd, John Watson, Stu Denman — ‘Why Indie Games Fail’
Now came the really exciting part for Virtro. We had been lucky enough to be chosen to present at Intel’s Indie Game Dev Showcase; an extraordinary opportunity for indie developers to show off their current projects and receive feedback on game demos from the industry experts. Our fellow presenters were quite outstanding, with real innovation and engaging gameplay at the forefront of every pitch.
We presented our beloved Run Dorothy Run, a rhythm runner game— ahem, created BEFORE rhythm runners hit the mainstream — with a difference. Think ‘The Wizard of Oz’ meets Guitar Hero, then add 4 worlds, 18 different levels and a storyline twist. Listen, we don’t do rhythm runner games by halves. Injecting a delightfully-engaging energy through the inclusion of the story’s best-loved characters (and some new ones to discover), the story follows you as Dorothy, running through Oz and collecting the Wizard’s prized possessions which have been proliferated throughout the various worlds. Although seemingly a light run at the start, Run Dorothy Run unravels into a syncopated, rhythmic chaos which will leave you ‘running’ breathless and begging for more!
Our CEO, Jordan Brighton pitching #RDR for the judges
After much consideration from the judges and the audiences alike we’re proud to announce: We won Intel’s AUDIENCE CHOICE award and some sweet hardware to boot!
Big thanks to everyone at Intel and for all the game players who came and tested Run Dorothy Run throughout the course of the day! We feel extremely privileged to have won, and thank everyone at Intel for such an engaging and inspiring day. Special thanks go to Cindi Wiggin, who organized the event down to a T and to Michael Nguyen and David Nassau who heeded to our every technical requirement throughout the day.
We’re excited to continue our relationship with Intel and to launch Run Dorothy Run to the European market in the Fall of 2018.