VR giant VIVE just released their “Top 100 Global VR Social Influencers of 2021” list.
You can (and should) check out their full list, but we’ve put together some context and commentary on some of our favorite entries as well as some trends that we identified in VIVE’s top picks, with a focus on our primarily English-speaking audience.
About the List
As a leading VR headset manufacturer, VIVE is well positioned within the industry to have a good view of the writing on the wall. As VIVE CEO and Chairwoman Cher Wang explained it in a release shared with ARPost:
“Through their online presence, these influencers are inspiring, informing, and educating others. They are the leading voices growing awareness and shaping the evolution of virtual reality. Their commitment to VR is key to the growth of a technology that is transforming the way we learn, work and play – they are contributing to the advancement of humankind.”
While VIVE didn’t dive into the metrics they used, they did include names from a number of different locations and languages as well as different professional fields including writers, podcast hosts, presenters, and game streamers. In the words of VIVE’s Head of Digital Commerce Yu-kai Chou:
“These ones-to-watch are helping to propel VR from a relatively niche technology towards a future where we can imagine a VR headset in every household, workplace and classroom, while inspiring others by sharing their knowledge and insights. Anyone who is interested in VR should be listening to these voices.”
Writers and Speakers
A number of the entries on VIVE’s list were columnists, authors, and journalists, speakers, and Podcast hosts.
Jonathan Nafarrete & Malia Probst (VRScout) #1
Ian Hamilton & Jamie Feltham (UploadVR) #6
Hamilton and Feltham are the managing editor and show producer of UploadVR. The multimedia production team publishes articles, hardware and software reviews, and a podcast. In addition to news stories, the publication promotes an understanding of ethics and inclusion in VR.
Ben Lang (Road to VR) #10
Lang is the co-founder of the online VR publication Road to VR. The publication publishes news and reviews of hardware and software, as well as guest articles and insights into XR design. While we have already achieved VR, this publication looks further down the road toward what the XR future may bring.
Charlie Fink (Technologist) #19
Fink is an author, educator, Forbes columnist, and co-host of the This Week in XR podcast with Ted Schilowitz. His articles discuss big-picture moves in virtual and augmented reality as well as other forms of emerging media. His podcast explores recent industry events and features interviews with industry executives and experts.
Cathy Hackl (Technologist) #27
Hackl is an influential technologist. In addition to being a contributor to Forbes and an active speaker and event moderator, she has worked at leading XR companies Magic Leap and VIVE and has written two books on XR and emerging technologies.
Kent Bye (Podcast Host) #34
Jesse Damiani (Technologist) #39
Kevin Joyce (XR Evangelist) #49
Joyce is a self-proclaimed “XR Evangelist” based in the UK. A primary method of outreach is VRFocus, an online publication focusing on XR news, reviews, and events.
Adam Savage (Celebrity) #56
You probably remember Adam Savage from MythBusters, but you might not know about his YouTube channel “Tested,” which has over 5 million subscribers. The show isn’t dedicated to XR, but that’s part of what makes it so exciting. When generally known and respected science buffs like Savage take an interest in XR, people notice.
Peter Rubin (WIRED) #75
Rubin is a contributing editor at WIRED. While XR buffs are often underwhelmed by WIRED’s XR content, Rubin focuses on XR stories and content and literally wrote the book on virtual presence. At the very least, Rubin and WIRED make the list for the same reason Savage does: introducing generally-tech-minded people to XR and helping them get engaged.
Janko Roettgers (Journalist) #89
Roettgers is a senior reporter at Protocol. He has also written and edited a number of books on big tech and emerging technologies and was a tech writer for Variety.
Daniel Terdiman (Journalist) #98
Terdiman is a journalist currently with Fast Company. In a career spanning two decades, he has also covered emerging technologies for tech publications including CNET, WIRED, and VentureBeat.
YouTubers and Streamers
Most of the entries in VIVE’s list are game streamers and YouTube celebrities. We’ve teased out some that we think are worth a closer look. For the most part, the value of the YouTubers and streamers on VIVE’s list is the same as some of the celebrity names above – they introduce people to VR. Granted, they’re not always the representatives VR might have chosen.
Jak Wilmot (YouTuber) #14
Jak Wilmot’s YouTube Channel “Disrupt” is on the brink of breaking into the 1-million-subscribers-club but he’s more than just a YouTuber. Willmot’s videos explore the intersections of virtual reality, perceived reality, and society.
Syrmor #20 & iListen #64 (Streamers)
Syrmor and iListen are streamers and YouTubers and they run YouTube channels with over a million and 200K subscribers respectively. Unlike most of the YouTubers on this list, Syrmor and iListen don’t just mess around with VR – they use it to interview people who have been through difficult life experiences. Some of their content may be unsettling to some viewers.
Vicinity360 (YouTuber) #24
Vicinity360 is a YouTube video creator well on the way to half a million followers. Some of the videos on his channel are playthroughs of popular VR games, but he also takes his viewers into 360 concerts and other immersive experiences.
ThrillSeeker (YouTuber) #25
ThrillSeeker is another up-and-coming YouTuber dedicated to VR content. His channel includes news, reviews, comedic shorts, and more.
Virtual Reality Oasis (YouTuber) #36
Virtual Reality Oasis is an up-and-coming YouTube channel doing hardware and game news and reviews. For more VR gaming and tech content, Virtual Reality Oasis is one of three hosts of the FReality podcast with other VR gaming YouTubers.
Nathaniël de Jong (Streamers) #46
Better known to over a half-million YouTube subscribers and Twitch followers as “Nathie”, this Netherlands-based YouTuber doesn’t just play games – he travels the world exploring the present and future of VR hardware and experiences.
Tyriel Wood (YouTuber) #69
Wood’s YouTube channel with nearly a million subscribers is dedicated to hardware news, reviews, and releases. While a couple of channels on VIVE’s list fit that bill, Wood makes our curated list because of his focus on cutting-edge tech currently beyond the reach of most viewers.
Virtual Insider (YouTuber) #73
Virtual Insider is an up-and-coming YouTube Channel dedicated to VR gaming tips, guides, round-ups, and reviews.
VTubers (Virtual YouTubers)
VIVE’s list included over a dozen virtual celebrities, some on YouTube, some on platforms like TikTok. While their content doesn’t necessarily stand out from that made by human presenters and channels, the sheer number of them that VIVE picked up for their list is an interesting piece of evidence in the ongoing question of how relevant virtual personas are in media.
Noticeably Absent Names?
This was the Top 100 list, so not everyone was going to be included. It’s also important to consider VIVE’s black-box selection criteria. There are definitely some prominent figures in the space that are doing more in-depth or insightful work that I would have liked to have seen on this list, but there’s always next year.