Oculus recently opened applications for its annual Launch Pad program, a developer mentorship that provides funding and resources to people from underrepresented backgrounds.

Oculus Launch Pad was created to “ensure diversity of thought in the VR ecosystem,” and focuses on women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and people from other underrepresented backgrounds, the company says in a recent blog post.

Potential applicants can sign up here through May 20th, and select one of three categories—360 degree film, VR experiences, and VR games.

Image courtesy Oculus

Launchpad starts this year as a two-day boot camp held at Facebook/Oculus HQ in Menlo Park on June 23rd and 24th, and will be open to a max of 100 developers. Oculus is also providing participants with ongoing remote coaching, feedback on their work, and also the opportunity to compete for 2018 Oculus Launch Pad Grants to develop their prototype and launch a full experience on the Oculus Store.

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Over the course of its two-year existence, Launch Pad has helped “over 200 aspiring VR content creators” including financial grants totaling more than $900K. This will be Oculus’ third Launch Pad.

Previous projects to receive grants from last year’s Oculus Launch Pad include I AM A MAN: VR Experience from Derek Ham, VR video Avaloki from Priyam Parikh, VR MOBA Conjure Strike from Andy Tsen. Check out the full list of last year’s grant winners here.

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  • VRfun

    I do like how, in a way to avoid being directly accused of their bigoted views, they thoroughly mention any and all races/ethnicity/sex besides white males. Wouldn’t it have just saved them time. Indirect bigotry is still biogtry.

    I do want VR to take off with EVERYONE but exclusionary bigotry is morally wrong. How about practicing what they preach with inclusion and diversity. This includes everyone not just focused diversity for the sake of “advertising”. Call it what it is. It’s a marketing ploy and it’s disingenuous.

    *Please don’t take this as me being offended my people aren’t being represented haha. I don’t care personally. I’m just kind of tired about these marketing decision to play on peoples emotions. If you market a product you market it to everyone and those who choose to purchase it will purchase it. If they are worried about diversity, well produce content that will pull in those members, not created a misleading narrative to play on peoples emotional being.

    • Gato Satanista

      So many wrong things in your reasoning… Let’s see… “This includes everyone not just focused diversity for the sake of “advertising”.” Oculus is already funding developers not included in the “diversity” label. One recent title that comes to my memory is From Other Suns, made by a professional studio with some money and support from Oculus. So, EVERYONE, already can actively search funding from Oculus. So, the Launch Pad program isn’t excluding anyone. It’s just an open opportunity for some minorities. People of color and women ARE minorities on tech industries. It’s a fact. The existence of the Launch Pad program WILL NOT reduce the opportunities and investment to professional developers and white male people. It takes a very narrow mind to think that way. I feel sorry for you.

      • VRfun

        I believe that the backing/funding should come from the merits of the idea, not from the persons background/ethnicity/color/sex/ etc. I’m not narrow minded as you perceive me to be. Why give every group of peoples a different monolith for funding compared to the white male group? Also, how are you confused about the content. Who said, or where did I say that white males should produce content for [other groups besides white males]? I believe anyone can make that content which is why there are free and paid for tools to design anything you want. Why should funding be given (or a separate group for funding) based on skin color or ethnic background. If we continue to point out different groups how do you think a truly egalitarian society would ever exist. We all need to coexist. It’s on Oculus to CHOOSE to select devs based on equal footing without regard to color/race/ethnicity/sex/ etc. If they continue to divide groups of people then why bother bitching about racism if they are in-turn encouraging it. Also, if they are breaking away from the division of the company that already provides funding to people/devs then why would they need to justify a “minority” group to approve. So in other words you’re saying they are acting racist and they are only approving white male oriented projects instead of giving everyone an equal chance. By breaking it away they are saying that as a company they are acting in an unethical away because that group is white males and then they “others” need another group to be funded. Should we be going after Oculus for treating people unequal at that point and not fighting with each other.

        I’m egalitarian and it’s a little sad you interpreted what I said as anything less.

        • Gato Satanista

          “Why should funding be given (or a separate group for funding) based on skin color or ethnic background.” Because this group, historically, has been fucked, slaved, excluded and explored for decades. And this exclusion lead to some economical discrepancies that still has effect today. Today, right now, we are not an egalitarian society. If you look to the tech scene today, will you see that the percentage of white males, in comparison with people of color, as example, is huge. And this is a fact, not an opinion. Why is that?

          1 – People of color are stupid and don’t know how to code (don’t think that is true)

          2 – The effects of slavery, exclusion and racism from the past decades are still visible, and this has led to economic disadvantages that continue to this day, making it harder for the minorities to get white collar jobs and enter in the tech scene as key players

          And take a look at this link: https://www.inc.com/kimberly-weisul/why-investments-in-women-led-companies-seem-to-have-plummeted.html

          It’s actual research and it states that startups led by woman get only a small fraction of venture capital. The most of it goes to the white males. Why is that?

          What you said about we all been equal and about meritocracy is beautiful. We all SHOULD be treated equal in first place, race, age, and gender should not be considered but the actual truth is: Right now, some races and groups has economical and societal advantages over others.

          Right now, any Indie studio led by white males and producing content for white males WILL have advantages ins seeking financial funding anywhere.

          And programs like the Oculus Launch Pad, by giving some “advantages” to the “weak group” (please, observe the quotes) is doing that to counter-balance this problem. That’s the way I see it.

    • Gato Satanista

      “If they are worried about diversity, well produce content that will pull in those members, not created a misleading narrative to play on peoples emotional being.” Just to finish… This last sentence of your comment makes no sense. So, your idea is that the best way to address the diversity problem is to “ask” and fund white, male, hetero people to produce content about people of color, LGBT and other minorities?? Why not just facilitate for these minorities to produce the content they think that is true to their identity?

  • DonMac

    Without judgement on those who have already posted, I would like to point out that we do not live in ideal or equal societies. I applaud any company who makes additional funding and support for less represented members of society.
    Speaking as an educator, it has been my experience that such members have often had less educational or developmental opportunities, and lower visibility of role models to inspire the confidence that they can achieve and excel.

    I feel the debate should be less about IF we should support programmes like this but about WHAT the best mechanism is to do so.