Reflecting on AltspaceVR’s Technical Achievements & Social VR Lessons Learned

Reflecting on AltspaceVR’s Technical Achievements & Social VR Lessons Learned


amber-royAltspaceVR held its final official Good Bye gathering on Thursday, August 3rd after announcing last week that they had run out of money and their investors decided to not invest any more. News of the social VR platform’s closing rippled throughout the VR community over the past week, and some are wondering if it’s any type of bellwether about the overall health of the VR ecosystem. There have been a number of discussion threads on Oculus subreddit, Vive subreddit, and Twitter that had employees chiming in on imminent plans and the challenges of dealing with trolls and harassment in VR.


I dug through my archives of unpublished Voices of VR interviews to pull out a discussion that I had with AltspaceVR’s Amber Roy in March 2016 talking about the platform’s JavaScript SDK that she was working on at the time. She ended up leaving the company in July 2016 to go to work at Oculus on the React VR framework, but this discussion we had before GDC 2016 highlights the technical innovations AltspaceVR made with integrating web technologies within their social spaces. The platform may have been too early with their three.js integrations as WebVR will be finally officially launching on Firefox this August with the release on Chrome hopefully coming later this year.

At the end of this podcast wrap-up, I share some of my reflections and lessons learned from AltspaceVR including if optimizing for both mobile & high-end PC was too limiting, the potential importance of more robust options for identity expressions and world building, the importance of virtual economies being built into large social VR applications, and the challenges around harassment in VR. I also compare and contrast AltspaceVR with other social VR applications including Rec Room, VRChat, High Fidelity, Anyland, BigScreen, JanusVR, Facebook Spaces, Project Sansar, vTime, WebVR, and Decentraland. Amber also talks about her AmberVR YouTube channel where she plays GearVR games, and the importance of promoting mobile VR applications.

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‘Decentraland’ – Using Ethereum Blockchain ICO to Sell Virtual Real Estate

AltspaceVR was a pioneer and innovator in the social VR space creating the first bridge between mobile VR and high-end VR, and they published a video of community members sharing their favorite memories within AltspaceVR:

Here’s my previous six Voices of VR interviews with AltspaceVR since May 2014:

  • May 2014 – #9: Cymatic Bruce on VR evangelism & Qualia3D, which became AltSpace VR
  • September 2014 – #90: Cymatic Bruce on Virtual Social Spaces in AltSpace VR
  • May 2015 – #143: Cymatic Bruce on building community with AltSpaceVR, & experiments in gesture input, VR locomotion, & multi-player web content in VR
  • September 2015 – #214: Using three.js to Create Social VR applications with AltspaceVR’s JavaScript SDK
  • November 2015 – #283: AltSpaceVR’s Eric Romo on the Early Challenges of Social VR
  • May 2016 – #364: Social Dynamics in AltSpaceVR After the Consumer Launch of VR

Here’s a sample of some of the experiences people had inside of AltspaceVR:

  • A popular event featuring Reggie Watts and Justin Roiland Live in VR
  • One of their last big events was Bill Nye talking about 8 Principles About Everything
  • UploadVR’s David Jagneaux captured some of the final moments of AltspaceVR’s Good Bye party on August 3rd (although it was still online as of Friday afternoon, but could go offline at any moment)

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Music: Fatality & Summer Trip

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