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article imageVirtual Reality is exploding in California Special

By Matt Terndrup     Jun 12, 2014 in Technology
Facebook has recently acquired the technology behind the head-mounted display of Oculus Rift for $2 billion. Because of this, meetup groups, networking mixers, and dedicated virtual reality events are popping up all across California.
After being invented in 2012 by Palmer Luckey, the Oculus Rift has since earned a reputation for having one of the largest developer communities in VR (virtual reality). Coders of all ages are already producing content for the Rift in an explosive fashion. Gaming, education, and film industries are all going to change due to the people involved in this emerging immersive technology culture.
Business card are given out from many influencers of various industries at Virtual Reality meetups
Business card are given out from many influencers of various industries at Virtual Reality meetups
With a home-base of Irvine, California, employees of Oculus have begun demoing their prototypes at various events across the state. This has caused a surge in activity where many different types of people are reaching out to each other to help set up the environments necessary to house the creative guild of VR visionaries.
Some of the most notable meetup groups that have surfaced in California so far include VRLA, SVVR, Orange County VR, and SF Virtual Reality. Each of these organizations is founded by revolutionary thinkers that want to foster a community of VR developers, vendors, hobbyists, and enthusiasts.
The first virtual reality group in Los Angeles was VRLA, which was created by a film production student at the University of Southern California by the name of Cosmo Scharf. He then recruited Music Video and Commercial Director Jonnie Ross to help organize events in Los Angeles. Their 1st meetup was help in April 2014 at Digital Domain, which is an American visual effects and digital production company based in Venice, Los Angeles, California. Exhibitors included E McNeill with Darknet, Matt Sonic with VirtualReality.io, Ed Mason with Gameface Labs, and many many more. Even Philip Rosedale showed up to present HighFidelty.io.
Photo of OCVR (Dylan Watkins) and SVVR (Karl Krantz) co-founders.
Photo of OCVR (Dylan Watkins) and SVVR (Karl Krantz) co-founders.
After the initial spark that VRLA set off, another meetup group spawned nearby in Orange County. This collective of VR enthusiasts and developers was aggregated by Burger Monster food truck vendor Dylan Watkins. Their first event has hosted at a local co-working space named PeopleSpace where over 140 people showed up. Morris May and Ryan Pulliam from Specular Theory showcased some new games they were working on. Holden Link, a developer, allowed individuals to try out a racing game as well. In addition, Karl Krantz made the 7-hour drive down from Silicon Valley to check out the VR buzz happening in Southern California.
A few weeks later, SVVR (who has been hosting virtual reality meetups since May of 2013) hosted a two-day conference in Mountain View, California where several cutting-edge VR companies exhibited their projects. Leap Motion, Sixense, Tactical Haptics, TrinityVR, VR Sandbox, Cloudhead Games, and Kite & Lightning were all present at the Expo.
Now these VR groups are not segregated from each other, but rather they are actively collaborating and supporting one another, which can be seen while attending the events. Those with the right eyes and knowledge to spot the influencers are able to watch the interactions between them.
This strong sense of community was ever-prevalent at an Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) afterparty hosted by VRLA. Enthusiasts came from all across the world to be there. New games were demoed before their upcoming releases at this VR mixer including the Mario 64-style third-person cartoony run-and-jump platformer game called Lucky’s Tale (created by Playful Corp). The energetic team with Survios floated in and out of the crowd. In-between all the commotion were the founders of most of the California Virtual Reality meetups. Some travelled from Silicon Valley, while others flew in from the United Kingdom just to be a part of the scene. Callum Underwood, the Development Relations Manager for Oculus, was present. A few reporters showed up as well including Imad Khan with the Daily Dot and a gonzo-style blogger for HackerTrips. Ben Lang, Author at Road to VR and VR podcaster Reverend Kyle was there too.
Photo of the Lucky s Tale team at the VRLA E3 afterparty  including Paul Bettner (shown on the right...
Photo of the Lucky's Tale team at the VRLA E3 afterparty, including Paul Bettner (shown on the right)
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