Session Preview: Game Design for VR Pioneers

Written by Megan Collyer | Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016

2016 SXSW Speaker Theresa Duringer. Photo courtesy of speaker.
Theresa Duringer of San Mateo, California will host a solo session titled, Game Design for VR Pioneers at this year’s SXSW. Her session is intended for developers and VR enthusiasts interested in the game design field, who are curious about emergent design solutions in gaming’s newest frontier. Duringer self-labels as an "indie ninja", and is co-founder of Temple Gates Games. She’s also creator of the multi-award winning virtual reality game Bazaar. As a second generation female game developer, she has nearly a decade of experience in the game industry, and has lead the charge in VR content creation with a top selling launch title on the Gear VR.

SXSW: Tell us about your talk.
Duringer: Virtual reality is a tidal wave that’s about to hit mainstream gaming. For developers willing to dive in to this tremendous new field, solutions have to be invented, not found. There are few forums and resources that solve the problems presented to designers in this immature industry. I’ll speak to the innovations my team devised to create Bazaar. In a platform with 360 degrees of visual freedom, manipulating gaze is essential to keep players on the right track. Come find out about new solutions, such as coaxing gaze with visual effects and 3D sound. This session will explore the novel decisions that are driving game development on virtual reality platforms.

SXSW: Where did the idea for the talk come from?
Duringer: This talk is based on lessons learned while developing Bazaar, winner of the Oculus VR Jam, a contest with a million dollars on the line for those willing to tackle uncharted virtual reality development. Bazaar has been a top selling game on the Oculus store for the Gear VR, and recently received an in-depth technical critique from John Carmack.

SXSW: Why should our attendees care about your session and prioritize it over others?
Duringer: The potential for virtual reality to disrupt the way we consume information, enjoy entertainment, and socially interact is enormous. VR changes everything. Because of the relative infancy of this new medium, best practices are rare treasures. I’m planning to pack this session with design lessons.

SXSW: What practical knowledge will your attendees gain at the close of the session?
Duringer: VR development is not your ordinary beast. Forget everything you know about game design, because your tried and true methods won’t hold up in this new medium. I’ll talk about the design traps I fell into so you can safely avoid them.

SXSW: In your opinion, from working in the industry, what is the biggest challenge facing today's tech industry?
Duringer: Democratization of development has made discoverability today’s biggest issue facing developers. The robust tools available have made tech development more accessible than ever, but the resulting flood of applications has made it harder and harder to stand out. Surfacing your product to consumers is now more a function of the size of your megaphone than the quality of your product.

SXSW: Interesting. So, what is your top reason for attending, and speaking at, SXSW Interactive this year?
Duringer: I want to exchange ideas with the top creatives influencing American culture.

SXSW: I know this is your first SXSW. What will your strategy for networking with and meeting others be?
Duringer: There's no bigger turnoff than someone launching right into their canned spiel. You can smell the rails. I call it the train. Rather than jumping into an overly rehearsed pitch, I'd rather chat about something in neutral territory. I'm pretty open about my board game obsession. I guess it’s the new "How bout them," but having a topic that neither party has ownership of gives a chance to genuinely bond without mashing your agenda at someone.

SXSW: One more – what was the last book you read? What did you take away from it?
Duringer: The Martian. Entertainment can come from wit and ingenuity. It doesn't need gimmicks.

Watch this blog for more installments of the 2016 SXSW Interactive Session Preview every Tuesday and Thursday. Click here for the complete list of SXSW Interactive programming.

Session Info:

  • Title: Game Design for VR Pioneers
  • Track: VR/AR Track
  • Click here to add this session to your 2016 schedule
  • Who can attend: Film, Interactive, Gold and Platinum badges – Haven't registered? You can do that here

Photo courtesy of speaker

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