Just like tattoos augment someone’s sense of identity, virtual avatars enable us to be anything we can imagine based not on assumptions about our physical selves but on how we choose to be seen. As our sense of identity evolves to include virtual and augmented versions of ourselves, future generations will feel more connection to these than to their physical selves. This shift opens up new possibilities for creative empowerment and social connection.
John Luxford is a self-taught software developer, musician, and entrepreneur who is passionate about technology as a means of social change. After moving to Winnipeg from Ontario in 1999, he worked in the Winnipeg Free Press’ web department, where he wrote an online auction app that ran on every major newspaper in Canada before being bought out. Unfortunately the buyout happened when John was on vacation, and he came back to find himself out of a job. Instead of finding another 9-5, John started Simian Systems, an open source software company that he ran from 2001-2011, working with clients such as Princeton and Disney.
After being involved in one of the first virtual reality projects in Manitoba in 2013, John co-founded The Campfire Union with two of his best friends to explore the possibilities of this new technology. Their mission to combine storytelling with emerging technology led them to create the world’s first VR board game, Lost Cities, as well as collaborate with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on a 360 video experience called Weaving a Better Future, which showcases two women’s cooperatives in Guatemala and the history and community around them.
Their latest creation, Flipside, ties storytelling and technology together deeper than ever before. Flipside enables anyone to create their own animated shows using virtual reality, without having to be a highly technical 3D artist or developer. Creating opportunities for creative empowerment is the core of what drives John’s work today.