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Making games is a bit like making music. You don’t know if something will work until you play it and hear it, and that’s why so many cool ideas come when developers get together for jam sessions known as game jams.
Bigger companies like Oculus VR use game jams to encourage experimentation, and the Facebook subsidiary just announced the winners of its first major Mobile VR Jam. Over the last month, Oculus invited developers from around the world to submit their projects for the Gear VR that it co-developed with Samsung. After more than 1,000 submissions, Oculus picked its favorites and awarded more than $1 million to the developers. That includes $200,000 to the Grand Prize winner.
Oculus named SteamCrew VR as its favorite game, which you can play by getting the build here. This is a steampunk game where two people — both wearing Gear VRs — cooperatively pilot a submarine through hostile waters. One player can see the terrain while the other can steer and fire weapons.
SteamCrew VR won both the Platinum App/Experience award for $100,00 and the Community’s Choice App/Experience for $1,000.
Oculus also handed out several more awards to other games.
Here are the Gold Game winners ($100,000 each):
- The Night Cafe: An immersive tribute to the paintings of Vince van Gogh.
- Drift: A “bullet simulator” where you control your trajectory, as a round fired from a gun, by aiming with your head.
- Daydream Blue: A virtual camping trip where you can just kick back and relax with your robot pet.
For a full list of the winners, see Oculus’s blog.
By funneling money into the development scene, Oculus VR is not just encouraging small developers to come up with new ideas, but it’s also seeding its own software ecosystem. Most people who try virtual reality are blown away by what Oculus and Valve are doing. But to succeed in the consumer-electronics space, these devices will need games and apps. Well, now that this Jam is over, the Rift, Gear VR, and more suddenly have a lot software in the works. And even the games that didn’t win awards likely enabled hundreds of people to get more familiar with making games for this new medium.
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