2016 was a long year. I traveled to 8 countries, took 33 flights, and spent weeks away from home – so when I got back from my North Carolina > New Jersey > Virginia tour during the Christmas holidays, I was, to be completely honest, ready for a few days of staying in and ringing in 2017 quietly.
I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of really amazing people working in VR over the past two years, so I was incredibly excited when Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (one of my all-time favorite meetup groups here in the Bay Area) announced that they were hosting a New Year’s Eve party for the VR community – in virtual reality!
At 11:30PM PST (it was already 2017 in the rest of the USA) I popped on my Vive and jumped into High Fidelity, where SVVR was hosting their party. I immediately recognized familiar voices of people I know in the physical world, and floated (flying is one of my favorite means of transportation in High Fidelity) my way around the event space, a giant mansion, complete with Joust cabinets, a dance floor, drum set, and stage.
After wandering around for a bit and dipping in and out of conversations, I turned the Vive over to Matt and followed along from my desktop as he wandered around the digital space. As it got closer to the end of the evening, we split the earbuds that were piping music and conversation through the metaverse into our apartment and huddled together for the countdown and the virtual fireworks, chatting with friends from all over as we rang in 2017 virtually. I was so impressed with how connected I felt to the other people sharing in on the party – and I had the added bonus of getting to attend in my pajamas.
Being able to share in such a unique experience with so many of the people that I’ve been able to work with over the past years was a truly awesome way to kick off 2017. CES is almost underway and Q1 of 2017 is filling up with more VR-related events than ever, and it’s amazing to look back and see how much the industry has grown since I first got involved with the VR community. I’m definitely excited to see more virtual events take place in High Fidelity – their ability to humanize virtual avatars is extraordinarily impressive, and adds tremendously to the overall social experience – and love that we’ve reached a stage where this kind of technology works to connect people from anywhere in the world.
P.S. If you thought it was hard to drink in a VR headset, a HMD-friendly kiss at midnight was a whole new level of difficulty! <3