The Changing Space of VR

Amazingly we have been at this for long enough (almost two years now!) that we have already changed the virtual environment we call home three times since our first meeting. As a former congregational minister who saw ideas slowly move through committees and boards for years without action, this has been a dizzying and wonderful process to be part of.

Our first space was lovingly created for us by the smarty-pants folks at AltspaceVR, a slightly modded version of their Kraken game, minus the Kraken. This left us with just a gorgeous all-natural wood retreat center in the middle of a lake, surrounded mysteriously in all directions by cloud topped mountains you could see but not reach. I liked to joke that the wood for the building was harvested from the discarded 3D bits of Second Life. Take a look:

Our second space was a radical redesign, led by the inspiration of liturgical arts guru Dr. Marcia McFee of the San Francisco Theological Seminary and brought to life by the minds and hands of the revolutionary VR artists Shane and Godfrey. Using a mix of the Shane’s Editor and native AltspaceVR SDK features, we dreamed up and implemented something completely new, a space for spirituality that could only exist in Virtual Reality. Upon entering the visitor could either walk up a spiraling staircase that wrapped around a tree and led to the meditation space hovering above, or explore the expansive area around the stairs. A little exploration revealed a bridge to a private campfire, a mountain path with a waterfall at its top and a cave with a 3D image inside of it. The signature feature of the space (IMnsHO) was the gorgeous stained glass window of a tree that stretched up above the meditation space. We had many excellent sessions in this space:

But all good things must come to an end, and Dec 31, 2018 marked the final day for this space as AltspaceVR unveiled a major New Years Day update that completely altered the DNA of their SDK, and made our space glitchy for any mobile user. Although we knew it was coming, we weren’t quite ready with our new space, so we spent the first two months of 2019 camping out and holding our events in a lovely clearing in world centered around a labyrinth, created by AltspaceVR user Relle. We got lucky finding this spot and we were very happy here while we worked on our new space. The labyrinth was the perfect compliment to our sessions, and we often ended with a walking meditation while we were in this space. Check it out:

But this week we are excited to have moved in to our brand new space, designed by Alan Chao. Inspired by our founder Jeremy Nickel’s spiritual home in India, Varanasi, the new space is on the side of a river with stone ghats (steps) leading down into the water. Up the hill from the ghats, one encounters another set of stairs that leads up to a large open space with stone platforms for meditation. Alan paid careful attention to the sky, and it has a truly magical look full of refractions and sun rays. You can check out these pictures, but you should really come to see it for yourself!

We will continue meeting regularly for our VR Meditation and Yoga sessions in AltspaceVR, you can find all of our sessions listed in their featured events section. I hope to see you there soon!