These 6 Apps Represent 2016’s Best VR Software, According To The Proto Awards

by Charles Singletary • September 14th, 2016

The Virtual Reality Foundation, founded in 2014, is a non-profit organization created in Los Angeles and merges the city’s thriving entertainment industry with the growing VR market via their semi-annual VRLA expo. The expo is home to emerging technology, new immersive experiences, and the tools to build such things. The foundation also created the first ever virtual reality award show, the Proto Awards.

The award show’s Board of Governors narrows down from submissions and what remains are considered “honorees.” In particular, their Best Overall category serves as a guide to the best of the best in the VR arena. The Virtual Reality Foundation unveiled its 2016 honorees for the prestigious award, along with the full list of nominations at the 2016 Proto Awards.

Best Overall

  • Tilt Brush – Google
  • Raw Data – Survios
  • Space Pirate Trainer – I-Illusions
  • Bullet Train – Epic Games
  • Modbox – Alientrap
  • The Lab – Valve

The 6 titles in the Best Overall category are not strangers to the Upload staff. Tilt Brush is the system seller the HTC Vive needs, Raw Data is a co-op VR dream come true, Space Pirate Trainer is a challenging wave fighter, Bullet Train is an Epic FPS shown for the Oculus touch, we built our own levels in Modbox, and The Lab was easily one of the most polished of the free Vive demos we’ve gotten our hands-on.

On Oct. 8th at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, California you’ll be able to see who takes the Best Overall award home and who wins in the Proto Award show’s 16 other categories, from Most Transportive Experience to Best Independent Experience. The show will be hosted by Ron Funches, known for his role in NBC’s Undateable as Shelly and will be appearing in the upcoming superhero comedy Powerless. All categories and nominees are listed below.

Most Transportive Experience

Give the sensation of having left physical space and having been transported into virtual reality to an extraordinary degree.

  • Apollo 11 VR – Immersive VR Education Ltd.
  • The Climb – Crytek
  • ADR1FT – Three One Zero
  • Old Friend – Tyler Hurd
  • theBlu: Season 1 – Wevr
  • Irrational Exuberance: Prologue – Ben Vance, Wevr

Best Game

  • Raw Data – Survios
  • The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed – Cloudhead Games
  • Job Simulator – Owlchemy Labs
  • The Climb – Crytek
  • Space Pirate Trainer – I-Illusions
  • Bullet Train – Epic Games

Best Music Experience

Submissions use music as a key element.

  • Soundscape – SNAKE Productions
  • Old Friend – Tyler Hurd
  • Music From Every Angle – m ss ng p eces
  • Grace – MacInnes Scott
  • SoundStage – Logan Olson
  • Apex – Arjan van Meerten

Best Social Experience

Must include an element of interplay between two or more viewers locally or over a network.

  • Lecture VR (recently re-named Engage) – Immersive VR Education Ltd.
  • AltspaceVR – AltspaceVR
  • Rec Room – Against Gravity
  • Pool Nation VR – Perilous Orbit & Cherry Pop Games
  • New Retro Arcade: Neon – Digital Cybercherries Limited
  • Speech Center VR – Cerevrum Inc

Best Mobile Experience

  • The Night Cafe: A VR Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh – Borrowed Light Studios
  • Ctrl – Breaking Fourth
  • Zen Zone – Aaron Lemke
  • Pearl – Google Spotlight Studios
  • Tactera – E McNeill
  • Music From Every Angle – m ss ng p eces

Best Interaction Design

Showcase innovative mechanics for interaction with a VR experience.

  • Job Simulator – Owlchemy Labs
  • Waltz of the Wizard – Aldin Dynamics
  • SoundStage – Logan Olson
  • Tilt Brush – Google
  • Rec Room – Against Gravity
  • Fantastic Contraption – Northway Games & Radial Games

Most Innovative

  • Pixel Ripped 1989 – Pixel Ripped Inc
  • Tilt Brush – Google
  • Blocks – Leap Motion
  • VR Noir: A Day Before the Night – StartVR
  • The Lab – Valve
  • FIREBIRD: La Peri (Book 1) – Innerspace VR

Best Original Score

  • Zen Zone – Aaron Lemke
  • Pearl – Google Spotlight Stories
  • Pixel Ripped 1989 – Pixel Ripped Inc
  • Apollo 11 VR – Immersive VR Education Ltd.
  • Windlands – Psytec Games Ltd
  • The Rose And I – Penrose Studios

Best Live Action Experience

Works of video-based VR.

  • Music From Every Angle – m ss ng p eces
  • Hard World for Small Things – Wevr
  • Zoolander Infinity – David Rosenbaum, Jaunt
  • Waves – Wevr
  • The Presence – Pseudoscience Pictures
  • The Argo File – Argos VR

Best Sound Design

Employ inventive and well-executed sound design.

  • Zen Zone – Aaron Lemke
  • Space Pirate Trainer – I-Illusions
  • Trials on Tatooine: A Cinematic Star Wars Experiment – ILMxLAB
  • Chronos – Gunfire Games
  • Reeps One: Does Not Exist – Aurelia Soundworks
  • Land’s End – ustwo games

Best Educational Experience

Judged based on the originality and effectiveness with which information is imparted to the viewer.

  • Apollo 11 VR – Immersive VR Education Ltd.
  • Lecture VR – Immersive VR Education Ltd.
  • GravlLab – Gravitational Testing Facility & Observations – Mark Schramm
  • House of Languages VR – Fox3D
  • C O S M Worlds Within Worlds – Dynamoid
  • The Field Trip to Mars – Framestore VR Studio & McCann

Best Student Experience

Must be created by a student. Verified Elementary to Ph-D level satisfies the requirement.

  • We Are Alfred – Embodied Labs
  • Shining360 – Claire Hentschker
  • Lions & Deer – Lean House Media
  • Chapel – Dean Moro and Lauren Krikorian
  • Fruit Golf – Coal Car Studio
  • My real virtual body: Body Swapping in virtual reality – Alice Chirico

Best Narrative Experience

Must tell a passive and/or interactive story.

  • Waves – Wevr
  • Knives – Adam Cosco
  • The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed – Cloudhead Games
  • Pearl – Google Spotlight Stories
  • The Martian VR Experience – Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Innovation Lab, RSA Films, The Virtual Reality Company
  • Kiya – Emblematic Group

Best Independent Experience

Must be created on a budget of less than $150,000 (including salaries).

  • Tactera – E McNeill
  • SoundStage – Logan Olson
  • Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope – Croteam
  • Space Pirate Trainer – I-Illusions
  • Shape Space VR – Zen Parade – Kevin Mack
  • Windlands – Psytec Games Ltd

Best User Interface

Submissions showcase effective and innovative mechanics and displays for graphical user interfaces in VR.

  • Dota VR Hub – Valve
  • Envelop VR – Bob Berry
  • Orion Trail VR – Schell Games
  • Transport – Wevr
  • Modbox – Alientrap
  • Speech Center VR – Cerevrum Inc

Best Art Direction

  • Apex  Arjan van Meerten
  • Chronos – Gunfire Games
  • Cosmic Trip – Funktronic Labs
  • FIREBIRD: La Peri (Book 1) – Innerspace VR
  • Kismet – Psyop
  • theBlu: Season 1 – Wevr

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  • Hey guys, you forgot “best art direction category”!

    • Ian Hamilton

      Sorry! Added.

  • Floris

    I would like to see download links to all these demos, games and apps. One of the big problems with VR is to find experiences on the web. Some of them are location-based but it would be nice to find out which ones I can download/buy.

  • builder777

    Where is Serious Sam? Release any time soon?

  • builder777

    Best immersion – Island 359 or HordeZ

  • What, no Damaged Core? Probably my favorite VR game right now.

  • Duncan Anderson

    How can you justify including bullet train under best game, and somehow incredibly under ‘best overall’ when the game hasn’t even been released. <1% of the VR community can even play it. The hardware required to play it isn't even commercially available. Its absurd to include it under either of these categories.

  • Rayza

    How on earth is Audioshield not in the best music experience category?!?!?!

  • Great compilation!

  • JustNiz

    The Lab easily deserves to win every category its in.