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Schell Games’ I Expect You to Die topped the second annual Proto Awards, an event honoring the creators of virtual reality experiences.
During the awards, held Tuesday night at the Avalon Hollywood and on the eve of the Oculus Connect 2 developers conference, Schell Games’ James Bond-inspired VR spy game won the award for best overall VR experience, as well as the categories of best gameplay and best interactive design.
At this stage, numerous brands of VR head sets — including the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive — are not yet available to consumers, but it hasn’t stopped the Virtual Reality Foundation (the organization that also produces the VRLA Expo) from starting to recognize VR content creators with the Proto Awards. Said Virtual Reality Foundation co-founder Cosmo Scharf: “VR is a nascent industry, and we’re trying to shine a light on the developers pioneering this field. Yes, it’s early, but we think it’s important to develop and grow this industry. [Numerous brands of headsets] are coming out next year, so we think we’re right on time.”
Opening the show, co-founder Jonnie Ross said, “We have been on stage with Paul McCartney, been to Syria … and even been a chef in a cartoon kitchen. When has this happened before, that we had such a wealth of experiences? We are finally able to walk around in each other’s imaginations.”
During the evening, a special founders award was presented to computer scientist Ivan Sutherland for his pioneering work toward virtual reality. Receiving a standing ovation, he said, “My little contribution to VR was I thought we could substitute a camera with a computer. My group at Harvard built the special purpose equipment. It was quite a crude thing.”
“Content is everything,” he told the crowd of an estimated 300. “The cinema camera doesn’t make movies; it allows movies to be made. It’s the creative people who make it real to people. I’m proud of what you’re doing.”
Receiving two awards apiece during the ceremony were Technolust, a game from Iris VR, for best art direction and sound design; Steel Crate Games’ Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, for most innovative and best social experience; and theBlu VR, an underwater experience from WEVR, for best educational and best mobile experience.
Also during the evening, which was hosted by Jonah Ray, honors went to “Inside the Box of Kurious,” a Cirque du Soliel performance from Felix & Paul Studios and Cirque du Soliel, for best live action; and “Surge,” a VR music video from animator and musician Arjan van Meerten, for best score.
Rounding out the list of award recipients was Vox Machinae, a game from Space Bullet Dynamics, for best independent experience; Cloudhead Games’ The Gallery: Emberstone teaser, for most transportive; Nighttime Terror, a game from Daniel Pots, for best student experience; and the Virtual Desktop VR app from Guy Godin, for best GUI.
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Super Mario Bros.
Samuel L. Jackson