SWVR_logo_clean--white-BGAs virtual reality rises, so does the need for its enthusiasts and industry members to meet. The UK has a thriving VR community and a growing industry presence, so the recently announced SouthWest VR Conference on the 24th Feb, is a welcome addition to the VR calendar.

Whilst the US, and in particular, the west coast, get a large proportion of the world’s attention when it comes to all things virtual reality, Europe and in particular the UK has a buzzing VR development and enthusiasts community. The UK’s gaming market is the 3rd largest in the world, estimated to be worth a cool £1.7Bn. The UK games development industry has seriously good form too, with developers like Rockstar (GTA), Rocksteady (Batman: Arkham series), Codemasters (GRID), CCP Games (EVE / Valkyrie) and Creative Assembly (Alien: Isolation) to name but a few. Eagle-eyed readers will probably also note than a couple of the developers above have dabbled with implementing VR in their games.

The @Bristol Science Park, Bristol
The @Bristol Science Park, Bristol

Last year’s excellent VRTGO conference, held in Gateshead in the North East of the country proved there was huge demand for formal VR focussed events in the UK. SouthWest VR (SWVR), much like it’s US counterpart SVVR (no direct relation), was borne from a community gathering designed to pull together local virtual reality enthusiasts and development talent to talk VR. SouthwestVR is now following in the SVVR Conference and Expo’s footsteps in taking the informal meet up to the next level.

SouthWest VR Conference Tickets Available Here

The SouthWest VR (SWVR) Conference is an event designed to bring industry members together to “..focus on narrative and storytelling within virtual reality.” The conference, to be held at the At-Bristol Science Centre in Bristol, has an interesting line up of guests and speakers from a broad spectrum of backgrounds. Guests include Callum Underwood, European developer relations manager at Oculus; Phil Harper, creative director at Atlantic Productions’ Alchemy VR; Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO of nDreams; and Nick Pittom (aka RedofPaw), director of critically acclaimed VR studio Fire Panda.

Although the conference’s primary track will be on examining the challenges and opportunities VR presents to storytellers, there will be technical track for those wishing to dig deeper at the development level.  The tech track will offer demonstrations and talks on the usual hot topics in VR such as options for input and facial recognition, plus an opportunity to go hands-on with the likes of Radial G, Salvaged, VR Karts, Gunner, Perfect Beach, Pixel Rift, Smash Hit Plunder, Crystal Rift and Stephen Gray’s Moved by Conflict.

With the prospect of consumer virtual reality rapidly approaching, the focus away from questions of hardware to the art of creating compelling experiences and narratives in virtual reality has already begun. SWVR seems to have positioned itself at that intersection in a timely fashion.

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opposable-gamesThe event is being organised by UK based Opposable Games, a multi-platform games developer with an eye on connected devices and virtual reality. The conference structure should allow for time between the quick-fire talks for networking and to get your hands on the latest in VR gaming and 360 movies. SouthWest VR is supported by Invest Bristol & Bath, Creative Skillset, the Digital Cultures Research Centre, Webstart Bristol, the Centre for Digital Entertainment, the BMT Group and Unity 3D.

Interested? Entry price is £120 (plus fees) per person, this gives you access to everything at the day’s event. You can grab tickets right here.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded RiftVR.com to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.