The Virtual Reality train is accelerating and if you haven’t caught the bug yet, you’ll miss out on a lot of cool things. The industry is gaining so much momentum it’s impossible to neglect the possibilities. Now that billion-dollar-headsets hit the market you have no excuses to scratch the VR curiosity itch.
When we’ve first done the research about the major players in Virtual Reality, we’ve found the expected bunch of heavy hits – the Palmer Luckeys and Tony Parisis of VR. So we’ve made a men only list. What a mistake! However, since then we’ve started researching deeper, and a lot of female names have been popping out. Actually, because media is so inclined to boast male creations, the ink is drained when they get to women.
Because AR and VR is such a young technology, women have been able to participate in it from the start. There are a lot of activists and organizations that support and encourage women to join the VR circles, for example the Women in VR platform. Jacki Morie, a VR scientist at NASA, has researched the creative VR experiences between 1985 and 2007 where as much as 70 % of those creators were women.
So here is a list (in no particular order) of some of the most innovative, creative and capable people alive! We sincerely apologize is we left anyone out. Be assured – there is so much talent out there that we are bound to create another list soon!
19) Angie Smets, Executive producer of Guerilla Games
This gaming innovator comes from a family that loved experimenting with technology. She’s a member of Guerilla Games, an Amsterdam-based video game developing company. She and her team are currently working on new games for Playstation VR.
She says that she loves the feeling of being in a virtual world, where there are no consequences. She’s also really happy to say that there are more women in game development than in any other point in history.
20) Rose Troche, VR Filmmaker
Rose Troche was a writer and producer for the L world, and she never stopped trying to portray the world through queer eyes. She created ”Perspective”, which is a story or a sexual attack shot in 360. The story was shot from two perspectives, so viewers can immerse themselves in both the victim and the attacker. It shows how signals can be wrongly interpreted, how alcohol clouds judgment and what horrible things are seemingly normal people capable of doing.
Her opinion is that VR is special, because it’s happening right now. (Western) women are emancipated enough that they can cooperate from the start. She says: “There hasn’t been a moment where women can jump in and be experts at the same time that men are.”
21) Janicza Bravo, the Activist and VR filmmaker
Have you been sceptical of VR when you first heard of it? So was Janicza Bravo. She initially turned down a VR project, because she felt that it was a technology that distances the viewer and she wasn’t really sure about the technical side of things.
But as soon as she tried it out, she knew that it was the place to be. She created ”Hard World for Small Things, a film about police violence. What she loves about VR is that it engages a lot more of your senses than a traditional theater experience.
22) Kamal Sinclair, director of Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs
Kamal Sinclair has to convince skeptics everyday that VR is absolutely worth your attention. She is aware that that’s the case with every new technology and she thinks it’s a normal process. One of her goals is that every voice gets heard, especially that of women.
Sinclair leads the New Frontier Story Lab, a week-long groundbreaking cinematic new media program that takes place at the Sundance Resort in Utah. The program focuses on empowering creatives at the forefront of innovation in entertainment and storytelling by providing them with guidance from a team of experienced creative advisers. Past participants include Roger Ross Williams, Yung Jake, Chris Milk, Cory McAbee, Navid and Vassiliki Khonsari, Karim Ben Khelifa, Tracy Fullerton and Lucas Peterson.
Check out her blog post.
23) Shari Frilot, Chief Curator, New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival
Shari Frilot was the curator who is responsible for de la Peña’s ”Hunger,” one of the many VR experiences making it to the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. She said that the experience de la Peña created was unbelievable. People were prepared to stand in lines without complaining to face the scenes she portrayed. Some viewers experienced emotions that were so strong, that their legs couldn’t support them anymore and they fell on their knees.
Frilot thinks that women will continue to be welcome in VR. She says that the good thing about VR is that it’s different from everything we know She states that women have to be a part of it, because they are keen on taking risks.
24) Maureen Fan, CEO of Baobab Studios
Farmville? Ring a bell? You must have heard of it. If you haven’t played it, that annoying FB friend surely sent you about a hundred notifications a day about free virtual carrots. Well, you can thank Maureen Fan for that, because she’s the one who oversaw the development of Farmville. She also worked on Toy Story 3 and that’s when she decided she’ll try being an animator full time.
She merged her love of VR with her passion for animation and launched Baobab Studios. Their first short film ”Invasion!” was a huge hit, and people would wait four hours in line to see it. She encourages women to join the industry, and hopes it will stay women-friendly.
25) Kathleen Lingo, Op-Docs Series Producer and Curator
In 2015, The New York Times launched NYT VR, its virtual reality initiative that puts users at the center of Times stories in an immersive virtual reality experience.
As part of the NYT VR initiative, Kathleen Lingo, commissioning editor of Opinion video, is helping to bring virtual reality films to The New York Times Opinion section. The eight VR films published by Opinion so far show viewers how virtual reality can extend the reach of Opinion journalism beyond words and video to the immersive 360 storytelling space that is VR.
26) Rachel Rossin, Visual Artist working with VR
Life is hard for women in art. We have about 30.000 years of art history, and women artists have been taken seriously only in the 20h century.
Rachel Rossin is fighting hard in the art world, merging her canvas paintings with VR installations. In her installation Lossy, Rossin places a VR headset in the middle of the gallery room. There are paintings on the walls, on which smudged, distorted, and impossible environments are portrayed. When the viewer puts on the headset, he is transformed into a world, where those places exist, creating a tension and contrast between what’s real and what isn’t.
She’s working on a new project in VR. It will be a journey through space and time kind of piece. As the viewer will move across the room, an explosion takes place, but will stay frozen if they stay still.
“I remember seeing those big million-dollar systems at the mall, but they were just theme-park rides. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, fuck yeah, let’s do this.’ But it obviously wasn’t attainable at the time. Smartphone technology is the reason we have VR today.”
27) Tricia Clarke-Stone, CEO and co-founder of Narrative
Narrative is an agency offering creative, technical and innovative solutions to tell stories. They’ve worked with big brands like UnderArmour, JCPenney and even Universal Pictures.
She loves to play around in Narrative’s innovation studio, constantly exploring new ideas and techniques that insure her to stay ahead of the game. What she loves about VR is another dimension that it brings to the story.
To find out her thoughts on leadership, teamwork and some advice, read this NY Times interview.