Read on for my interview with Peter Howell, Product Manager at Versus Systems & Unity Developer at Honeypixel. He spoke at #OC5 on “Creative Ways to Get More Eyes on Your App.” His game, Lucifier’s Mask can also be found here.
I sat down to talk to Peter about shifting his career from being a Product Manager to a Software Developer (AND doing both at the same time!). Having gone through a couple of career changes, I can relate to the challenges and uncertainty that comes with change. This is also especially true in Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (also called AR/VR), where things are constantly changing and everyone is learning.
3 key lessons that I learned from my chat with Peter:
1. Learn and try new things. Have the patience to go through different prototypes and not give up when things don’t turn out the first time.
2. It’s fine to not know everything before starting, just keep taking action.
3. Technology can help to create greater empathy and connection.
I was relieved to see and hear this quote at the keynote session with Mark Zuckerberg:
‘This journey is 1% finished.”
A great reminder to approach things from a “beginner’s mindset.” Everyone is learning and with this sentiment, it takes the pressure of having to be perfect off, and gives us the openness to explore and learn.
In the midst of all the activity that was happening at #OC5, we managed to find a quiet place for our interview and to go on FB live! Our live video can be found here.
What are the key AR/VR learnings that can be applied to our daily lives?
VR/AR are going to be the next natural computing forms. What’s the next step in computing and consuming information? VR is in it’s infancy stage; this is to remind people to keep their expectations in check. I am impressed with Sony, HTC, Lenovo and their VR offerings. AR is going to be as prevalent in our lives as having a phone. If you put something into a form factor with great stylized elements, it will lead to more person to person interaction in real life. Using the real world as your canvas is very exciting for AR.
There are business use cases outside of VR — coming sooner than you might think. Virtual presence and connection can be enriched with AR/VR. AR/VR are quite different and there are use cases for both.
AR/VR creates a raw authentic connection that people can have with each other. Both will provide a virtual presence; the closest thing that we have right now is FaceTime, which is a framed experience. There is not much depth, though it’s exciting because you are having a connection. Connection will be enriched with AR and VR.
How do you see the future of storytelling? How will this affect our future generation?
There are games that talk about loss, for example, That Dragon, Cancer is a heartbreaking game. Quoted from their website, That Dragon, Cancer, is “an immersive narrative video game that retells Joel Green’s 4-year fight against cancer through about two hours of poetic, imaginative gameplay that explores faith, hope and love.”
Games are becoming more mature in narrative. There are dealing with real world problems in a fantasy setting. Games are growing up in many ways. I hope that they will have a positive effect on our younger generation; to know that they are not alone and to have their eyes more open to certain social issues.
Game developers are being more cognizant (of the impact of games), and as a result, great stuff has come out. Games have an extended play time. They have the buy-in of a player for a period of time, to be not just a witness to the game. The player is a participant that can make choices and he/she has the opportunity/canvas to explore narrative themes that you may not be able to do on television or film.
How do you balance everything? What motivates you?
It’s certainly a tricky juggle. I like to create things. As a Product Manager (PM), I work with fantastic teams. I work with super talented designers and engineers. It’s great to have the opportunity to build with a team as a PM and then, go develop and build as a solo developer. It’s creating and it’s also offloading the entire responsibility of owning, developing and designing. From a professional perspective, there is a variance, a little bit of a relief between the two different occupations.
In terms of juggling my personal life, I’m trying to focus on my home life a little more; trying to help my wife around the house more, be a good husband and build cribs!
Thank you so much to Peter for taking the time to chat and connect with me at #OC5! I really appreciate it!
Hope that you enjoyed this piece! Have a wonderful rest of your week!