We were lucky enough to “virtually” sit down with Yeva Patterson, a VR creator who is inspiring both kids and adults to fearlessly create for VR . Oh, and she happens to be 10 years old. Here’s the interview:
Hi, Yeva! Thanks so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to VR?
Thank you for having me, this is so fun!
Late in 2017 I was able to try VR for the first time. Once I put the headset on, I was so amazed! It was so much fun!
I created art all around myself in Tilt Brush, I giggled as I ate moldy donuts in Job Simulator and I was thrilled as I stood on a plank high in the sky in Richie’s Plank Experience. At first, it was scary to stand on the plank, it’s so real, it feels like you might fall. I actually had to hold my mom’s hand, but after a little while I got brave and was doing tricks on the plank. It’s one of my favorite VR memories because we had so much fun playing as a family. I learned that in VR, I am more brave than my parents.
Ever since then I have spent most of my development time creating for VR.
It is really fun to be a VR developer because you have to play a lot of other games for “research.” A few games I love to play are Beat Saber - it totally rocks! Beast Pets is so cute and Tilt Brush is great for being creative. Also, Sprint Vector is really fun and Job Simulator is so funny.
Wow, sounds like you’ve tried a lot! What kind of things do you make for VR?
Around the same time that I was learning about VR, I was also asking my parents for a rock wall but we didn’t have any space to build a real one. So I decided the next best thing would be to climb in VR so I created a climbing experience in VR. I made it into the shape of Google’s logo for their Doodle for Google contest because the theme that year was to doodle what inspires you. I am inspired by VR and the unlimited possibilities of what you can do with VR.
I really like using Pro Builder in Unity to create experiences like the Google Rock Wall. I have made a few experiences like it but have used different assets and decorations to make them unique.
I also really enjoyed making a house in VR and creating my own characters, it’s kind of like a dollhouse in VR.
That climbing wall looks amazing! We can’t wait to see what else you create. On that note…you just won an Oculus Quest! How exciting! What would you like to make for it?
I am so thankful for the VR community’s support, it is why I won Tipatat’s contest. The best part about being involved in VR is the friends I have made.
I created a Thank You video to everyone on my YouTube channel, Yeva Codes. See how the Quest ended up in a tree!
The Quest makes playing and sharing VR so much easier! I plan on making a lot more YouTube videos!
Currently I’m working on vCoder - an application that teaches the fundamentals of coding within VR. I’m so excited to be contributing to it! I am helping my parents and the whole Beach Day Studios team design games, themes and characters. It’s so cool that this will be released soon and people will play something I’ve worked on!
It is really fun to code in VR and I want other kids to learn how amazing programming can be. With the Quest, it will be so much easier to show kids how incredible VR is and how fun it is to learn to code in VR. I can just take the headset anywhere and share the awesomeness of VR! Plus the Quest will make it easier for schools to use VR because they don’t need a whole computer or external sensors.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you've made making for VR? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest thing I have learned about creating VR is when you size something for how it looks on the computer and then check it out in VR.
For example, I created a VR experience as a birthday present to Ellen DeGeneres this year. I made it 26 feet high because Ellen’s birthday is on January 26th. I added three cats because Ellen has three cats in real life, but to make them show up on the 26 feet high Ellen experience I had to make the cats huge! So when you go into the experience in VR there are these monster cats, the cats look pretty scary instead of friendly and cute :)
What’s your favorite thing you've made in VR so far?
I have so many ideas and I wish I could create them all. I’ve had the most fun helping with vCoder, I really enjoy brainstorming fun games and characters that I get to play with in VR. I am learning a lot about the whole process, from sketching out concepts, to building fast prototypes, to testing things out. The whole development process is really exciting and creative. I have always loved creating and imagining new worlds, and in VR you can really create anything and I love that.
Another of my favorite things I made in VR is the Google experience because that is what started me on my VR journey. I took the programming skills I had from designing apps and brought it into VR. All of a sudden I could not only see the world I created, I could walk around it and be in it, that is really cool!
What have you been able to do in VR that you can't in real life?
I have also gone on field trips around the world that I haven’t had the chance to travel to in real life… yet.
I have also mixed chemicals in a science lab that I am too young to do in real life. I have put out fires using a fire extinguisher, something I am also too young to do in real life :)
I’m also looking forward to new educational apps for VR. When you learn in VR, you get to be inside an environment, experiencing and interacting with a topic in a whole new way and I love it!
You mentioned you're releasing a series of tutorials to teach how to create for VR, vCoder. What impact do you want to make through this?
I want to make a YouTube video series teaching kids coding using vCoder as well as tutorials on Unity. It’s thrilling to think that I can help other kids learn such a creative and valuable skill. My parents started a nonprofit at vCoder.org that provides computer science curriculum and VR headsets to schools for free. I love that I’m a part of it because I love programming and VR. I also like that the nonprofit encourages girls to get involved in computer science.
With VR students can learn things in a different way. They get to be inside an environment and experience it and interact with it in a whole new way. With VR, they go inside the lesson. I’m already learning so many new things.
I also really enjoy teaching other kids about how fun and creative programming can be! I had the fun opportunity to speak to a Kindergarten class about coding and, afterwards, many of them started learning how to code. This inspired me to want to support and encourage more kids. So through my YouTube channel, I hope to inspire other kids, and especially young girls, to learn how to code so they can create their dreams too!
Lastly, what is one piece of advice you'd give to someone who wants to experiment with new technology?
I would say don’t hesitate to jump in! When I first tried VR I was able to create in a whole new way and it has inspired all kinds of new ideas. Let yourself experience it and spread the joy! For developers, I would also say, don’t be afraid to experiment or make mistakes, some of the coolest inventions started this way.
There’s so much fun to experience in life and VR is helping everyone experience life in new, exciting ways. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Thank you so much!
Thank you, Yeva! It’s been an honor getting to know you. You’re an inspiration.
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This is the first post our creator spotlight blog series. We hope these interviews help us all get to know the stories behind XR creators who are making an impact, and support each other’s work! Subscribe to our newsletter to receive spotlights in your inbox.