The Academy for International Extended Reality (AIXR) held the fourth annual VR Awards on Thursday, November 12. Like many awards and conventions in XR, AIXR held the ceremony virtually using VRChat.
“Last night was an extraordinary celebration of the advances made in virtual reality across what has been a highly unusual twelve months,” said AIXR CEO Daniel Colaianni. “Despite the constraints that COVID-19 has presented, it is evident that innovation and progress in delivering virtual reality to all has not been hindered.”
That innovation and progress were built into the event itself as the usually in-person VR Awards ceremony this year took place in VRChat. It was also live-streamed on the AIXR website as well as on a number of social media platforms.
VR Film of the Year
VR Film of the Year went to Walt Disney Animation for their captivating submission – Myth: A Frozen Tale.
For the second year in a row, VR Healthcare of the Year Award went to FundamentalVR.
The immersive education platform won for “their efforts in enabling redeployed nurses and doctors to learn how to operate ventilators (in less than 30 minutes) under the direction of an intensive care consultant to try and combat issues they were seeing with training during the early days of the pandemic.”
VR Education and Training
The Education and Training Award went to MEL Science for their quantum simulation engine. The experience allows users to scale down to a microscopic size to experience atoms and molecules in new and more interactive ways.
The VR Hardware of the Year Award was awarded to Valve for Index, the company’s first virtual reality headset developed and manufactured in-house. The headset’s innovative off-ear 3D speaker design was also used in the recently launched HP Reverb G2.
VR Game of the Year
The VR Game of the Year Award went to Valve for the immensely popular HalfLife: Alyx. Other nominees included the ever-inventive stealth ops game Phantom: Covert Ops, arcade-style shooter Pistol Whip, fitness game Synth Riders, and the adventure puzzle game The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets.
The Accenture Lifetime Achievement Award
The Accenture Lifetime Achievement Award, the AIXR committee’s highest accolade, was given to HTC founder Cher Wang.
According to the committee, “Cher was recognized for her exceptional contribution towards a holistic VR ecosystem and creating an engineering powerhouse in HTC ahead of the ubiquity of smartphones we know today.”
VR Social Influencer of the Year
A new VR Award for this year, the VR Social Influencer of the Year Award went to ThrillSeeker.
The YouTube channel for news, product reviews, and games beat out a number of other nominees for the much-talked-about category including “Virtual Realist” Nathie, YouTubers Cas and Chary, VR games streamer Virtual Reality Oasis, and Voices of VR podcast host Kent Bye.
VR Experience of the Year
The coveted VR Experience of the Year award went to Tender Claws for their theater production The Under Presents. The experience was up against Accenture’s National Theatre musical production All Kinds of Limbo, the National Geographic Explore experience, and Magnopus fantasy adventure Elixir.
Other nominees in the field included The VOID’s contribution to the Jumanji universe, theBlu: Deep Rescue, and the Universal Monsters Presents: Bride of Frankenstein ride by REWIND and holoride.
Out of Home VR Entertainment
Unfortunately, with fewer of us experiencing VR out-of-the-home this year, the Out of Home VR Entertainment of the Year Award category might have been a little hobbled this time around. That’s not to take anything away from this year’s winner, ILMxLAB for Avengers: Damage Control.
Rising VR Company
The Rising VR Company of the Year Award went to virtual art studio KlipVR. They were up against fellow digital studio Emperia, social and gaming projects Evernever and VR Inn, and gaming station innovator Cybershoes.
VR Marketing of the Year
At a time when XR technology is encroaching ever deeper into the realm of commerce and consumer outreach, the award for VR Marketing of the Year went to HIKKY Co., LTD. for their virtual market.
Innovative VR Company of the Year
The VR Award for Innovative VR Company of the Year was awarded to tech giant Qualcomm. In addition to pioneering mobile computing chips dedicated to XR, the company is heavily involved in the development of 5G.
Other nominees included hardware decontaminator Cleanbox, experience studio
Skydance Interactive, and others.
VR Social Impact
In a year in which VR found itself championing new important causes, the VR Social Impact Award went to AARP Innovation Labs for Alcove. The experience lets the elderly meet with family members in comfortable and accessible virtual spaces.
The moving experience was selected for the VR Award over a number of other significant nominees, including a student-made spatial tribute to the Holocaust.
VR Enterprise Solution of the Year
VR Enterprise Solution of the Year went to MEDIASQUAD GmbH for their BRP-Rotax VR Job Assessment tool.
The application was up for the VR Award against flight simulators for British Airways First Class VR and The US Airforce, as well as Accenture’s Immersive Collaboration Platform and a VR training module creation platform from Immerse.
Give it Up for the VR Awards!
While the major takeaway from all of this are the winners and honorable mentions, the VR Awards deserve celebration in and of themselves. That’s particularly true this year for really stepping things up by hosting the awards in VR through custom VRChat worlds.
“We were delighted to be able to return the favor and reward the high standards presented by delivering the ceremony in true VR style – a world-first for an awards ceremony,” said Colaianni. “(…)To be truly immersed in every submission by all exemplary VR Awards nominees means to truly understand the gravity of their accomplishments in the industry.”