XR, Design, Real Al's Human Academy

Design Retrospective: Real Al's Humanity Academy #1: Finding Purpose

In this series of blog posts, I will talk about my process as a producer, designer, and programmer of Real Al’s Humanity Academy. I’ll discuss why I made the decisions I did in each of these roles to give readers a better idea of how I approach these disciplines. The intended audience of these posts are potential employers, collaborators, and/or fans of the game who want a more behind-the-scenes look.

In this post, I will discuss why our team set out to make a VR party game and what problems we hoped to solve by doing so.


This project started as a question in Robert Yang’s VR production class at the NYU Game Center. On the first day of class, Robert asked us, “What do you dislike most about VR?” Though I was absolutely fascinated with VR, I still found some issues with it: the cords got caught on everything, the sensors took a millennium to set up, and the headsets often ran hot.

However, there was one issue with VR that outranked all the rest: VR was incredibly isolating. When Robert’s question was posed to me, I had owned a Gear VR and borrowed an Oculus Rift for about a year. I had enjoyed many great single-player games and narratives with both headsets, but these play sessions were always dampened somewhat when I took off my headset and saw that one around me had shared in my experience. The technology made you feel lonely.

Moreover, the technology was difficult to share. If you invited your friend over to try your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, they might have a great time, but you would be stuck watching them play through your computer’s monitor. There are a few great local multiplayer VR games such as the amazing Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, but these are few and far between. Checkers, which could be played with stones and grid paper, had more staying power as a social activity than VR, which has billions of dollars of investment. If VR could not fix this isolation problem, I honestly thought it would die out (again.)

In  Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes,  one player defuses a bomb in VR while the other reads them a series of complicated directions from their phone.

In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, one player defuses a bomb in VR while the other reads them a series of complicated directions from their phone.

I thought VR had incredible potential as both a gaming platform and a storytelling medium, so I wanted to make something that proved to others that VR gaming could be a fun social activity. I wanted to make a game that someone would turn on at a party and that the whole room would enjoy, such as Wii Sports. With this in mind, I began the project with a simple mission:

Make a VR game that people would want at their party.

In my next post, I will discuss about how our team approached this question as game designers.