Oculus, one of the early industry leaders in virtual reality, also appears to want to take an early lead in creating a broad spectrum of pioneers in VR development. The Facebook-owned VR company quietly rolled out a program based on the premise that “VR is for everyone, and the best way to foster a widely appealing breadth of content is to incorporate the full range of unique perspectives from our development community.”
The program seeks to create a class of 100 VR content-creating professionals, including “women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and anyone who is willing to share how their perspective adds to the ‘diversity of thought’ in our community.”
Launch Pad Bootcamp
The program begins with an event, the Launch Pad Bootcamp at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Those selected to participate will receive a Samsung Gear VR headset and access to hands-on courses gained from being admitted to the bootcamp, plus a $1,000 travel stipend and meals. Beyond the bootcamp, from May 21 through August 27, online support and mentorship will be offered to help build upon their VR ideas while scholarships of $5,000 to $50,000 may be extended to leaders in the program, to realize their VR content creation ideations.
Afterwards, some of the best and brightest may be asked to return to the program in future years to mentor up-and-coming VR professionals.
Oculus and VR
For now, VR is a relatively blank slate with a multibillion dollar market potential to grow into, with this year representing the first major launches of full-feature VR hardware and the first AAA-label games being rolled out. The Oculus Rift VR headset has just launched to Kickstarter backers first, with waves of further rollouts to come.
Some prominent women from the game development business have said the point to begin with is with the VR industry recognizing the need for diversity and creativity. It appears that Launch Pad is the type of step toward early inclusiveness Oculus is taking.
Keep in mind the deadline to apply is until April 8, 2016, and is, based on follow-up comments from staff, open to U.S. applicants only. For all the background and details on the Launch Pad program, Oculus’ official post is here.