Catching UP With Roy Taylor of AMD As VR Goes ‘On The Lot’

on Thursday, Sep. 29th

2016 is going to be remembered for a lot of things, too many, really. One thing it doesn’t seem to be on track for being remembered for is as “the year virtual reality broke through to the mainstream.”

While the first wave of major consumer head mounted displays have gone on sale from industry pioneers Oculus and HTC/Vive the market is still the playground of early adopters and developers. Some corners of the tech and business press have been eager to bury VR but as a conversation I had with AMD’s Corporate Vice President of alliances, Roy Taylor, reminded me the industry is still in its infancy.

As Taylor likes to point out, it took more than a decade and a half to go from the first motion picture cameras to the arrival of the Nickelodeon ushered in the movies as a mass medium. We’re “about five years in, in relative terms,” Taylor asserts. (more…)

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To Heck With ‘The Daily Show’, The Sharpest 2016 Political Satires Are Games

on Wednesday, Sep. 21st

As a culture, America loses its mind every four years as every bubbling tension is brought to the surface in the emotional outpouring/long term strategic planning scrum better known as the Presidential Election.

No corner of the culture is safe from this, seemingly increasingly sadistic, ritual. Social media is the eye of the storm, while cable news, comedy, and dinner table conversations create an inescapable cage of mental pain.

Not even video games are safe from the touch of the campaign. There are scores of products in the iOS App Store looking to make either a quick buck or a “real difference” by marrying gameplay with this election’s troupes. There’s plenty of options for playing Flappy Bird or Whack-a-Mole clones with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump skins, if you’re so inclined.

What you won’t find in the App Store are some of the sharpest satirical takes in game form. That’s because The GOP Arcade, home to interactive hot takes like Trump Toss and the topical Epipen Tycoon was rejected by the App Store.

“We were supposed to release it as an app,” said Brian Moore, one of the small group of friends behind The GOP Arcade. “Apple rejected us because of the content of these games.” (more…)

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Virtual Reality’s Distribution Frontier Is Heating Up

on Wednesday, Aug. 31st

One of the more interesting things about virtual reality is that it is going to be the first consumer medium whose distribution platform is native to the internet.

Oh sure, websites are native to the internet, but the web pages of which they consist are riffs on print pages with embedded elements. We saw plenty of those during the CD-ROM era of multimedia efforts. While every other form of media—from music to video games to movies—have developed distribution ecosystems to either supplement or replace their traditional channels VR is starting online by default. Even “out-of-home” VR attractions are powered by networked solutions.

A lot of the lessons of what does and doesn’t work in internet distribution have already been learned. That’s true if we’re talking about streaming services like Spotify and Netflix or App Stores like Apple’s. The long term smart money is on whoever can establish strong content distribution platforms for VR.

There will be those who will try and own the ecosystem from top to tail the way Apple does with the iPhone. It’s been a lucrative path for them to say the least, but it’s not the only one. Some of the current tension in the high end at-home Head Mounted Display market comes from the battle between Oculus and HTC/VALVE to have the superior store for game content. HTC/VALVE entered the battle with a leg up: they had Steam, which is pretty much the personal computer video game marketplace. Oculus has Facebook’s cash reserves and reach into a billion-plus internet users lives in their back pocket.

Who controls the hearts and minds of early adopters of high end HMDs is important, but it is far from the only battleground. Games and other deeply interactive experiences will have enough variables within their technical requirements that the distribution platforms for them will likely see a tighter integration with the hardware makers. Or to put it in plain terms: platform exclusive games won’t be going anywhere for a few years, if ever. Sorry, fellow gamers.

Straight up 360 video experiences, on the other hand—whether they are music videos, feature length films, or live streams of unfolding events—will benefit from some cross-device standards.

Which brings me around to Jaunt. (more…)

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Creative Jobs Site Zerply Wants To Bring Balance To The Work Force

on Tuesday, Jan. 5th

When you’re a journalist with one foot in the tech sector you wind up getting pitched about a lot of companies. Apps. Technology infused schemes that are certain to change the world.

I’m lucky, and I know it, that Turnstyle doesn’t have to chase the 24/7/365 tech press churn the way everyone else does. Shielded by our status within public media, and with our focus on creating radio stories I get to pick and choose who I write about. I get to set my filters a little tighter and meet with the folks behind companies I find interesting.

Late last year I got to meet with one of those people: Christofer Karltorp, the co-founder and CEO of Zerply.

Zerply has had a storied journey in Silicon Valley.  For a minute there they were looked on as a rival for LinkedIn. Before going any further, I better stop down and explain that.


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Virtual Reality Developers Conference Announces Big Name Advisors

on Tuesday, Oct. 27th

The honeymoon between video games and the broader entertainment industry that is taking place in the Virtual Reality suite will continue next year in the form of VRDC–the Virtual Reality Developers Conference–which is going to be held alongside the venerable Games Developers Conference.


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Indiecade 2015 Games Announced

on Tuesday, Oct. 13th

IndieCade, the annual International Festival of Independent Games held in Culver City each October, has announced the official selections for this year’s festival. Touching down in downtown Culver from Oct.23-25, this year’s festival features a mix of returning favorites, award winners, and intriguing new offerings across a plethora of genres.

Remember: IndieCade isn’t just about video games. There are “big games” which involve full physical participation, board games, and virtual reality experiments right alongside more “traditional” computer games. Whatever “traditional computer games” means these days. No one really knows. Isn’t that wonderful.

VR heads would be wise to show up and check out the selections on offer, which were curated in part by Brent Bushnell of Two Bit Circus and immersive journalist Nonny de la Peña. (Now that’s a couple of people who know VR.) If you’re lucky you’ll get your hands on experiences like the Proto Award winning I Expect You To Die and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.

Or maybe you’ll discover the next great award winning VR experience.

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‘Bedlam’ is Coming: A Post-Apocalyptic Game That Was (Kinda) Double Kickstarted

on Monday, Aug. 31st

Earlier this year, while at E3, I checked up on the guys who made The Banner Saga–Stoic– to see how the sequel to their popular, Kickstarter-backed turn-based RPG was doing. (The short answer: really well.)

While I was in the booth of publisher Versus Evil, who have partnered with the studio to get the game out into the world, I was introduced to the cats at Skyshine. They are another indie studio who have built a turn based RPG which is going to be hitting the digital shelves soon.

Their game is called Bedlam, and it’s a post-apocalyptic haul across a nuclear wasteland with a plot ripped from the fever dreams of teens obsessed with Mad Max and other 80’s nightmare-scapes. Because that’s exactly where the game comes from: the junior high and high school RPG notebooks of Skyshine’s founders. That’s right: they turned their old home brew RPG setting into a video game.

You have to love this stuff.

If the mechanics of the game seem familiar it’s with good reason: it’s Stoic’s Banner Saga engine. The guys at Skyshine licensed the tech to build their game on it. This kind of thing isn’t all that unusual in the game industry, Unreal Engine comes to mind, but it’s great to see one of the early crowdfunding success stories in gaming have this kind of legacy. Given that Bedlam itself was Kickstarted, that means the game was–in a sense–double Kickstarted.

If you’ve got a hankering for turn-based nuclear wasteland action, Bedlam is available on September 17th.

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This Play Will Be VR’d In Front Of A Live Audience

on Friday, Aug. 28th

Okay, I don’t like to just replicate Press Releases, because that’s stenography not reporting. Once in a while, however, something comes across the desk and I just don’t have too much to add but I do want to share. So here it is.

A production house in the SF Bay Area known as The Department of Badassery is putting on a new play next month called Don’t Be Evil. In broad strokes: it’s about surveillance culture. That wouldn’t be all that newsworthy by itself, theatre companies put on new plays all the time–it’s true, you should really check some of them out they’re sometimes quite breathtaking.

What’s interesting about this one is that The DBA has teamed up with a Virtual Reality studio called CloserVR and they are going to “film” the piece in VR. Oh, and they’re selling $5 tickets to that taping–on what is essentially their preview night. It just might be the first event of its kind, I know that I haven’t heard of another like it. (Not that I’m omniscient in this universe.)

Full Press Release and all the fiddly details after the jump.




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The Legacy of ‘Mega Man’

on Tuesday, Aug. 25th

An Alternate Timeline Adventure With the Mega Man Legacy Collection, Sort Of

The following is not a review, because as—theoretically—an adult I don’t have the time to plow through six Mega Man games while trying to hold down the rest of my work duties. This is in a large part due to the fact that I no longer possess the side scrolling skills I once used too. Nor do I have the pattern matching recognition abilities of an old Mega Man champion.

You see, although I owned an NES during the classic era of the Mega Man franchise, the Mega Man games were never part of my Nintendo diet.

This wasn’t due to a dislike of the series, but just the fact that my mom was broke and I couldn’t have every game that I wanted. I got about two games a year, max. Unless I went and held a yard sale and got rid of some of my toys. Something I still regret.

Instead I would gaze longingly on the maps of the levels of the various Mega Man games as published in Nintendo Power and other video game magazines. Much of my current fascination with “retro” games comes from the fact that it was a path not taken in my childhood. Now with very little effort, I can download these gaming classics and experience them more or less as they were originally intended.

So what follows isn’t overview of the glitches, the plot lines and fidelity of the complete Mega Man Legacy Collection but instead a glimpse at how well this digital box set evokes the alternate universe where I grew up with a life full of Mega Man.

(Perhaps in that universe they spelled Berenstain with a Y.)


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Video Games Get A Whole New (Crowdfunding) Platform (Kinda)

on Tuesday, Aug. 18th

Kickstarter has a new competitor today, at least when it comes to video games.

Fig—led by Justin Bailey the former Chief Operating Officer for Double Fine, the game studio that kicked off the game crowdfunding crazy—has made a somewhat splashy debut in the gaming corner of the Internet today.

There are two big differences between Fig and ye olde Kickstarter: for, uh, starters Fig is part of the wave of post-JOBS Act crowdfunding sites that offer up equity in the finished product.


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To Build The VR Education of Tomorrow One Scholar Turns To The Past

There are plenty of folks in the education technology field who are excited about virtual reality as the next great educational tool.



We’re Closer To Our Photorealistic VR Future Than You’d Think (INTERVIEW)

A look into the virtual world of tomorrow with USC researcher Paul Debevec.


Prepare Yourselves For The Personal VR Video Revolution

Virtual Reality is rapidly approaching a watershed moment.

Ralph Echemendia

Spoiler Alert: Hollywood Isn’t Taking Cyber Security Seriously (LA Film Fest)

Tonight at the Los Angeles Film Festival, squeezed in between movies and red carpet events, a symposium on Cyber Security is being held at the Grammy Museum.

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Rent Video Straight From Social Media Via Gumroad

The people who brought the “Buy Now” button to Twitter are going all-in on film distribution.