Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Make music with snack food in the tropical dreamland of Playthings

Make music with snack food in the tropical dreamland of Playthings

When you listen to electronic duo George & Jonathan, it’s easy to imagine yourself in a colorful wonderland. A dream world where you’re probably eating candy, or consuming something else sweet. A land where everything is serene, cheerful, happy; akin to the atmosphere in Sega’s cute-’em-up shooter Fantasy Zone (1986), or maybe in a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu music video.

Completely unsurprisingly, given the George half of the duo (George Michael Brower)’s interactive experience creating studio Always & Forever Computer Entertainment, George & Jonathan have officially made the leap to VR with Playthings: VR Music Vacation. And it’s available today (er, well since August 24th) on Steam for the HTC Vive.

I wouldn't mind taking a vacation to tropical candy paradise.
I wouldn’t mind taking a vacation to tropical snack food paradise.

Playthings isn’t Always & Forever Computer Entertainment’s first game-like endeavor. In fact, it’s not even George & Jonathan’s first interactive project either. George & Jonathan’s last playable eye candy came in the form of a visualizer to coincide their third album, George & Jonathan III (2014). The draggable interface for the visualizer was interactivity at its bare minimum, but still added an extra component to an already energetic and lively album. With their next joint project, the interactivity has been boosted to new heights.

The type of game that anyone can play, from a grandma to a small kid

Playthings is exactly what the title suggests: a music vacation. The player’s armed with drumsticks—technically HTC Vive controllers in the real world—which merely serve as tools to hit things with. There’s no complicated buttons or controls to be learned in Playthings, and that’s by intentional design. Playthings is the type of game that anyone can play, from a grandma to a small kid. It’s readily accessible, easy, and most of all, it’s fun.

Go ahead and drum those gummy bears, my dude.
Go ahead and drum those gummy bears, my dude.

Playthings plops the player into a world that’s nothing but neon. Like how Lisa Frank’s art once captured the fancy of all young girls in the 1990s, Playthings elicits the same type of color-induced glee (though of the less gender-constricting variety). In Playthings, drumsticks in hand, the player sets out to make music. With sound design and general music by the Jonathan half of George & Jonathan (Jonathan Baken), it’s hard not to imagine a more better-suited duo to create such an endearing music-making VR game. As once the drumsticks strike down, saccharine snacks like jelly beans become harps, hot dogs become xylophones. And best of all, the music always sounds pretty damn good, no matter how you rearrange it.

Take your own musical vacation with Playthings on Steam now, available for $11.99.

Versions is brought to you by Nod Labs,
Precision wireless controllers for your virtual, augmented and actual reality.
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