Jason is a Product Director at Linden Lab. He established Sansar Studios, a world-class creative team, to develop social VR experiences on the Sansar platform for clients such as Intel and Warner Bros.
Currently a Producer of award-winning VR, mobile, PC, and AAA console experiences. Jason served as a Senior Producer on Second Life, the largest 3D virtual world ever created. He was a Producer for the acclaimed, multi-award winning game, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet.
You are listening to the VR AR Pioneers podcast, brought to you by Admix.in. We interview top professionals who share their exact formulas for success in development, growth and funding an XR startup, and I’m your host, Juan Felipe Campos. Okay, VR, AR pioneers. Remember on every episode we give away resources to help you grow your VR AR project. To enter the giveaway, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and message the word “done” to Admix.in/giveaway to prove that you did it again, visit Admix.in/giveaway and message the word “done” to prove it and get your free resources. Today’s episode is led by Danny Halperin. Let’s hear more from him in this episode of the podcast.
Danny: 00:56 Everyone, thanks for joining us. My name is Danny Halperin and I’m the Developer Evangelist for Admix and today we have Jason from Sansar, uh Linden Labs here. He just spoke, at Augmented World Expo 2018 here at Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, California. How are you doing Jason?
Jason: 01:16 I’m doing good. Thanks. I’m happy to chat with you.
Danny: 01:18 Yeah, thanks. Thanks so much for joining us. I know you just spoke and had an event talking about social VR. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Jason: 01:31 Uh yeah it was fun. We just did a quick little fireside chat regarding making social VR spaces safe and welcoming spaces and the challenges therein and different strategies for achieving those ends.
Danny: 01:47 Yeah, yeah. I know, you know, on, on, online, on, on web, on forums there’s different activity. People don’t feel as censored. They feel like they can say whatever they want. I know social VR really needs to be a place where it is safe and needs to have policies in place that can somehow monitor or control type of activities that people do in those spaces.
Jason: 02:20 Well, I think that’s the, is one of those things you have to be careful what you wish for because the tool that makes it safe for one person makes it dangerous for another and so or uncomfortable for another person. And so it’s a little bit of an eye of the beholder kind of situation. And so in the end, you know, while there can be some definitely some global policies that everyone must adhere to, one must, there must also be some flexibility for people to express themselves, you know, and people need to be aware of context and location and who they are around just as they are in the real world. Similar patterns of behavior will emerge in the virtual world as well.
Danny: 03:15 Yeah yeah sure at the numbers in terms of people who are interacting in social VR environment are low at the moment. So it’s really about getting these rules and, and the ideology right from the get-go. So we don’t have it a situation down the line where now we are sort of behind the buck to create this ideology after problems have already emerged.
Jason: 03:38 So, so I mean, if you think about it, there’s plenty of other, a precedent and um strongly analogous kinds of platforms or systems out there where we can borrow and learn from. You know, in the case of Linden lab, we have direct experience, uh, having created and operated Second Life for the past 15 years. And over those 15 years we’ve seen, you know, tens and tens and tens of millions of people come through and participate on the platform. And we’ve developed, you know, some thinkings, you know, and uh, approaches to the issue and um, it, it, you know, it really is a combination of just kind of making it not fun to, to, to make people’s experience or to, or to grief people is what we say sometimes or to you know, both the top down as well as a bottom up kind of approach is what’s really required for people to hopefully strike some kind of happy medium.
Danny: 04:54 What do you think the primary use cases for Social VR are at the moment? What do you see people doing in social and virtual environments right now?
Jason: 05:03 Yeah. So, and that’s one of the things that we talked about in the panel. You can do so many things, you know, you do in real life. But what’s exciting about Social VR are the things you can’t do, you know, you can watch movies, you can hang out with your friends, you can play games together, but you can also go places you couldn’t otherwise go and see things, you know, uh, um, achieved privileged points of view that you couldn’t otherwise get. And those are the things where a social VR really shines right now, you know, getting a personal personalized tour by one of the curators of the Smithsonian is a really great experience to have as they talk about some of the pieces that are in the collection. So these are the types of things that are happening right now and are really interesting to see.
Danny: 05:57 That’s awesome.
Danny: 06:00 I recently met with Philip Rosedale, the original founder of Second Life. And he famously said that humans are mammals in the sense that we are social beings and so he defines that as the reason why VR’s adoption was about to pick up is because social VR is finally possible in a quality way. And up until up until this point, VR has been an isolating experience. Where not see anything outside of the headset, but that you can experience that environment with anyone else. So he said that social VR experiences are what we’ll take a, you mainstream mass adoption.
”You have to be careful what you wish for because the tool that makes it safe for one person makes it dangerous for another.Jason GholstonProduct Director at LindenLab and Head of Sansar Studios
Jason: 06:47 Yeah, I, I think that that’s a reasonable premise, you know, um, and, and, and we, we, we, we feel similarly, um, it is always more fun with people in there. Then by yourself, I think that you can see you that same thing occurring, you know, and in the video game verticals, right? Like where, you know, it’s the network games is the social games with heavy social component in them that are like, that have really taken off or have the lasting are the staying power, the stickiness to, to keep people deeply committed. Same thing here. I mean, you know, your phone, you open up your phone and how you have, how many apps on your phone or actually really just messaging apps if you really distill it down. And the, our social VR in particular is just the highest bandwidth version of all those things. And when I say highest bandwidth, I mean it’s the, is the channel, it’s the, the medium that captures the most of your, your intent as a communicator. Your body language comes through your voice. You know, depending on your setup, maybe even your facial expressions, I mean these are things that have haven’t yet, you know, here to for other mediums have not been able to communicate, at least not very effectively. Even video chat.
Danny: 08:16 Yeah. One thing that really caught my attention, I think this just came out three weeks ago, SV VR announced partnership with High Fidelity and recently created the ability invite spectators to view live events. So it’s sort of the convergence of VR activity and online-offline activity. Being able to share experiences between online and offline.
Jason: 08:48 Yeah. It’s the slightest little is the slightest little glimpse of where, you know, we will see a blurring of the lines, you know, what, you know, the lines between AR and VR. Those will go away. You know, I could be having this conversation with you right now, but in, in this not so distant future, you’ll be an avatar in this space with me. Yeah. So yeah, what, what they, what they, what they’re doing is really cool and it’s a lot of fun and I actually got to see it over here at the show.
Danny: 09:27 They have a booth here at AWE
Jason: 09:29 Yeah showing it off and it’s fun. I waved to the people there at High Fidelity and yeah, it was fun.
Danny: 09:35 Yeah. And you mentioned, um, your, your talk was broadcasted on, on Altspace, is that right?
Jason: 09:42 It was, it was streamed out to Altspace and um, the, uh, yeah. And they videoed it as well. Yeah.
Danny: 09:59 The lines between the virtual world and our own are constantly being blurred and redrawn. And uh.
Jason: 10:00 I mean, again, you think about like, this is just another communications channel. You think about how many different communications channels are you semi-present in right now? There’s, you and I are here together in the physical space, but you know, you probably, maybe you have Slack on your phone, maybe Apple messages and SMS messages and email how many different accounts, you know, it’s like, oh, maybe you have some game that you’re playing and there’s messaging within that game. I mean, you say you’re semi present across all these kind of parallel instances of yourself, you know, and, and so this is just, you know, another all encapsulating one. Oh, that could possibly subsume all of the others. If done properly.
Danny: 10:47 Well, thank you so much for your time, Jason. I really appreciate it.
Jason: 10:50 Thank you for the questions. It’s fun to meet up.
Danny: 10:52 Yeah, definitely. We’ll do this again soon. Take care.
- Social VR involves getting together in a simulated world using VR where participants appear as avatars in environments that can be lifelike or fantasy worlds. Social VR is intriguing because you can experience innumerable environments and situations that might not otherwise be possible.
- Currently, important strides are being done to make social VR spaces safe and welcoming places using different means to achieving those ends.
- The key is developing rules and ideology so that people feel safe to be themselves but balancing that with others not feeling stifled or censored.