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Virtual Reality Club pushes technological boundaries

By Albert Reiss

Section: Features

October 16, 2015

When the phrase virtual reality comes to mind, we may think of advanced video games or very complex data visualizations. Despite these misconceptions, Brandeis has introduced a new club to educate the community on this topic: the Brandeis Virtual Reality Club.

Club founder and president Mike Makevic ’17 explained his curiosity in this arcane topic. He alluded to his “passion for 3D modeling, game design and the applications of virtual reality in data visualization and education.” These interests stem from Makevic’s involvement in Deis 3D since his first year at Brandeis.

While most virtual reality clubs are concerned with playing games, the Brandeis Virtual Reality Club is unique in that it takes a more technical approach to the field. “We are unique because we don’t play games. We make, design and code them. We teach people the raw basics and applications of this field,” Makevic explained. Therefore, membership in the club requires hard work and dedication, as well as an interest in the more quantitative aspects of virtual reality.

Most of the work being done now involves organizing the club as well as keeping its members up to speed on the various facets of virtual reality. Because it is a new club, Brandeis Virtual Reality needs to educate “people on the technical aspects of game design and virtual reality. This means showing them what software to use, and where to find the resources they need,” Makevic said. Luckily, he is experienced in the field and will be able to make sure that club members have a firm educational grounding in virtual reality.

Once the members are all educated, Makevic has plans of “splitting the members into groups and having each work on a particular project that interests them. We hope that they will eventually have the skills they need to pursue their goals with our help.” By having different groups take on on different projects, Makevic hopes to accomplish more for the club in an efficient manner. The focus of the club is not to force members into tedious projects, but to allow for people’s passions to guide their decision-making concerning virtual reality.

What is most astonishing about the club is that many of the members have no prior experience in virtual reality. Therefore, when their enthusiasm is translated into actual projects, it is a big deal. Makevic explained that he enjoys “people’s enthusiasm. Everybody has amazing ideas, and eventually seeing them implement these ideas is very rewarding.”

One of the difficulties of running a virtual reality club is dealing with the fact that it is a young technology. Therefore, not only do members have to learn more about the field, but also wait for new technology to be released. Makevic noted how “the most frustrating thing about the club is that a lot of the hardware (VR headsets) is not out yet. It hasn’t been released. We are eagerly looking forward to getting new tech once it comes out.”

In spite of these misgivings, Makevic makes a strong case for why people should join the Virtual Reality Club. “People should join our club because not only is it fun and interesting, but we also teach them real life skills that can be applied anywhere. 3D modeling, game design and coding have many applications outside of virtual reality.”

Some might say that virtual reality lacks applicability in their lives. However, according to Makevic, living in a world that is increasingly connected, “virtual reality is going to be the future of interactivity, and getting a head start benefits everyone.”

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