The Microsoft Build conference starts this week, and I expect that we’ll be learning more about the HoloLens as well as Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality operating system. Microsoft has been evangelizing about virtual reality the past couple of years now, and I had a chance to catch up with Microsoft Technical Evangelist Kat Harris at PAX West last Fall. She’s been teaching VR 101 development courses at different conferences, and we talk about what she’s been telling game designers about maintaining presence, building immersive experiences, and how to deal with some of the biggest breakers of presence including VR locomotion and the uncanny valley. We also discuss the limits of virtual reality when it comes to haptics, uncanny narrative, the future of artificial intelligence in enabling collaborative role-playing, and the power of world building & storytelling in games like Minecraft.

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PAX West is great place to play social games like Johann Sebastian Joust, where the biggest aspect of this gameplay is being able to control your sense of embodied presence. A game like this would translate well in mixed reality with other co-located people, but it would be nearly impossible to translate this gameplay into a distributed virtual reality game.


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