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Celebrating Women in VR: Q&A with Autumn Taylor

How did you get your start in the tech industry?

Autumn Taylor: While in university, I joined the student game development club and turned my lifelong hobby of playing video games into actually making them. My hobby turned into an obsession once I got my hands on an Oculus DK2, and I jumped on every single opportunity to try more VR. As a college senior in 2015, I went to a local VR Austin event and networked with every company there, landing a marketing gig with Phaser Lock Interactive that set me on the path of working on VR games. I later joined Owlchemy Labs in 2017 and have since continued my journey into the wild world of VR.

Tell us about your current role.

AT: At Owlchemy Labs, we’re known for our absurd and highly polished VR games—titles such as Job Simulator, Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, and our latest game, Vacation Simulator.

It’s a unique challenge to think of ways to showcase our games to fans and potential customers, because so many experiences in VR don’t necessarily translate to a still image. Especially since we encourage chaos and silliness in our games, it’s a bit of an art (and a workout) to create marketing materials that convey the sense of action and movement we want our players to experience. It’s relatively new technology, and we’re still figuring out the best ways to share VR with others to not only showcase our games but the potential of the medium as a whole.

Who’s your favorite figure from women’s history?

Sailor Moon is one of the most popular pieces of media of all time, and the themes of friendship and authenticity have always spoken to me. When I was younger, I loved the beautiful animation and drawings, but as I got older Sailor Moon became even more important to me as a piece of media combining my love of geek culture and anime with fashion. Sailor Moon fights for love and justice! Who doesn’t love that?

How do you see yourself making history?

AT: The Owlchemy motto of making “VR for everyone” is one I hold near and dear to my heart. I want to continue to help make experiences that are accessible and inviting to everyone. That extends past design to include marketing and the way we invite people to try VR who might not consider themselves tech-savvy or a “gamer.” I’d like to think I’m already making an impact on the future of the industry by doing my best to invite as many people as possible to experience VR and by making this space inclusive and accessible.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young girl considering a career in tech or the arts, what would it be and why?

Today, technology overlaps with virtually every industry that exists. The experiences and interests that are unique to you as a person influence your work and can give you a perspective that nobody else has. I love yoga. I do yoga in our studio. The most successful people I meet in the industry are often the ones who tap into their passions.

Where have you encountered support and advocacy for women and other underrepresented groups in the VR industry?

AT: Since attending my first VR Austin event in 2015, I’ve since joined the organizer team and help wrangle our local community events. I’m particularly proud of the support I’ve found in our local developer community, where we take diversity and inclusion seriously and enforce a code of conduct at our events to make sure everyone feels safe and welcome. In addition to the local community, I’ve also found a great deal of support and advocacy for women and underrepresented groups online.

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Apr 02, 2020 at 07:07

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