VR Hackathon

Northern Ireland Screen and Future Screens NI, in partnership with SideQuestVR and Digital Catapult’s Immersive Labs, invite you to join a VR Hackathon in September!

SideQuest is an open platform for distributing both experimental and commercial work for the Oculus Quest and Go headsets. To find out more about SideQuest, visit https://sidequestvr.com/.

The main theme of the hackathon will focus on touch-free solutions for a post-pandemic world, leveraging the hand tracking feature of the Oculus Quest that enables interacting in VR without physical controllers. The VR Hackathon will be free to enter and run over 7 days, from Thursday 10th September to Wednesday 16th September.

The VR Hackathon attendees will have a unique opportunity to focus on prototyping hand tracking concepts. The participants will benefit from invited talks and guidance from expert mentors who have experience in the topic and that will be able to lend their expertise to the attendees. These sessions will be hosted in a mix of Zoom, Discord and social VR to take advantage of the most widely used technologies for delivery of content.

Teams in attendance at the VR Hackathon will submit projects via SideQuestVR for consideration by the Jury. The jury, which will consist of mentors and organiser representatives, will select the best projects to be featured on the SideQuest platform.

While all level of participants are welcome, we would encourage students from universities with immersive courses and research activities, practitioners in screen-based creative industries who are interested in getting a taste of what it takes to make immersive things, immersive companies’ teams, VR enthusiasts who aspire to jump from consuming into making VR to take part in this VR Hackathon!

VR Hackathon mentors:

Antonia Forster: Antonia is a keynote speaker and self-taught programmer, working in the field of AR, VR, and haptics. Antonia has worked with a wide range of technologies, including VR (Oculus), AR (Android, AR Foundation, MARS), hand-tracking (Leap Motion), haptics (Ultraleap STRATOS Explore) and even unique location-specific projection systems (We The Curious planetarium, the UK’s only 3D 180° context projection space). Antonia works primarily in Unity/C#, and has shipped multiple enterprise-level solutions. Her experience also includes 3D modelling (Blender), Javascript, Python, and Machine Learning. Her passion lies in pushing the boundaries of XR technology, and demonstrating its use-cases.


Luca Mefisto: Luca Mefistófeles (@lucamefisto) is a seasoned Software Engineer with years of experience developing applications and experiences for the biggest energy and military corporations. He has shared his views at international universities and won several competitions, but ultimately he is just a hacker who enjoys math-rock music, making modular origami pieces and creative thinking. Luca has recently worked on hand tracking projects, including a tool with which record realistic hand-pose animations.



Orla Harris : Orla is the COO and Co-Founder at SideQuestVR. She will guide you through the best practices on submitting projects to SideQuest.



A more detailed schedule will be emailed to the registered participants closer to the event.

Requirements to participate:

At least one team member needs to have access to a Oculus Quest headset or a Leap Motion device with a VR headset. The organisers will facilitate team formation around participants who have headsets, so it is possible to participate without one and contribute to team work e.g. with 3D asset creation, interaction design, paper prototyping, etc.

Event start: Thursday, September 10th, 4pm BST

Event end: Wednesday, September 16th, 6:30pm BST

To register, click HERE.

Northern Ireland based game development studios selected for Creative Europe MEDIA Programme

Two Northern Ireland based Game Development Studios, Italic Pig and Brain and Nerd, have each been awarded €150,000 as part of this year’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme.

Creative Europe is the European Union’s support programme for the cultural and creative sectors. Its annual Support for Development of European Video Games call supports companies developing original narrative video games, providing grants toward the development of ambitious video game projects that are innovative, creative, and culturally diverse. A total of 125 applications were submitted for the scheme this year from across the EU, with Brain and Nerd and Italic Pig being two of the top 32 that were selected for funding.

Brain and Nerd’s game Hortalius is an entertaining twist on recent exploration survival games such as Subnautica or No Man’s Sky. The game will transport players into the microscopic world of a typical suburban back garden, with players solving mysteries and uncovering secrets from the perspective of a half-centimeter protagonist.

Italic Pig’s Quest Quest: The Quest for Quests is a farcical and poignant RPG fantasy adventure about an old time hack-&-slash hero travelling an enlightened new world, where the only quest left is to discover his own purpose. The game concept was pitched to Creative Europe as “an over-the-top deconstruction of the entire RPG genre: part narrative adventure, part rogue-like dungeon basher.”

This year was particularly important for the UK games industry as it was the last time that companies from the UK could enter the scheme due to Brexit. The Creative Europe programme awarded €89.5 million to 376 UK-based cultural and creative organisations between 2014 and 2018, but UK companies will not be able to participate in the scheme from 2021 onward.

Brain and Nerd Director Tina Lauro Pollock commented: “This opportunity from Creative Europe opens up so many doors for Brain and Nerd. We’ve already been talking to publishers about Hortalius, and having the funding to develop a highly polished prototype will be invaluable in our ongoing conversations and the future success of the studio. Early support for the project from Northern Ireland Screen and Future Screens NI was instrumental in helping Brain and Nerd succeed in winning this highly competitive award.”

Kevin Beimers, Italic Pig’s Director said: “The very fact that two out of the three successful UK companies are from Northern Ireland is a testament to the level of narrative talent here. There is an amazing local industry, a collaborative atmosphere with a heavy emphasis on narrative storytelling. The writers and developers working in the Northern Ireland game sector are never shy to build one another up, seeing a win for any company as a win for the entire region. As well, support from organisations like Creative Europe and Northern Ireland Screen have immeasurably helped NI rise up and get noticed in a busy global marketplace.”