This year had been the most remarkable yet for the VR Awards and the Academy of International Extended Reality. Behind what is now one of our most ambitious and ground-breaking VR Awards, were the puzzle pieces that came together in the form of our dedicated team, volunteers and passionate developers. We had one clear goal in mind: To lead the way for future virtual events and overcome modern hardships through VR.
Here is our journey in making the first virtual VR Awards.
After one of our most successful VR Awards in 2019, we began preparation for the next edition in hopes of always exceeding expectations. Our flagship show is a pillar of the VR community, bringing hundreds of international guests to our home in Central London, a hub for immersive technology. The awards have become hugely important to the immersive ecosystem; giving recognition to leading pioneers & giving networking access to the most influential names – something we wanted to carry into any event medium we chose.
We’ve been obsessed with the immersive events space and social VR since its inception. As we saw increasing lockdown measures, we snapped at the opportunity to deliver something we always wanted to; a fully virtual event.
We designed the VR Awards to go shatter expectations, and re-define the virtual event space.
As we began exploring a social VR platform to host the show, we quickly settled on our partners at VRChat. The VRChat community is huge – with an endless collection of social VR experiences built and shared by the community.
What followed was breakthrough after breakthrough. After experiencing so many virtual events that tried to emulate too closely their in person event, we realised that our experiences scratched the surface of what was possible. The technology was there to do more, VR is finally affordable and powerful enough – but the ideas are stale. We designed the VR Awards to go shatter expectations, and re-define the virtual event space.
For the first time, the VR Awards had unlimited potential: we were no longer limited by the size of the room, so thousands could attend. We were no longer limited by location, so the whole world could join simultaneously. We were no longer limited by 2D screens, and could instead take our attendees on an unforgettable journey that would take them from an 80’s arcade to piloting an aircraft over the English Channel.
Throughout the year, we armed ourselves with talented and passionate developers from our own and the VRChat community; and set out to create the VR Awards world in VR, all from the ground up. Our team grew to over 25 community developers; a mixture of 3D modellers, animators & world-builders, all coming together to bring our VR Awards vision to life in Unity.
Before we knew it, our events team had turned into a full blown games studio, working with Academy industry partners and onboarding a technical lead. We pieced together development piece by piece, from concept through to testing.
Two weeks ago we got to enjoy the hard work of the hundreds that came together to make this project a reality, and we are inspired by the results. The journey has been a rollercoaster, but we hope to have established the capability of VR to overcome modern challenges, and set a precedent for virtual events that will last forever.