The NYU Game Center is excited to welcome faculty member Matt Boch to the latest installment of the Lecture Series. In addition to his work at the Game Center, Matt Boch is currently the lead designer on Harmonix upcoming Rock Band VR. Join us on December 15th for a deep dive into the process of bringing Rock Band into VR.

Developers have spared no processing power in search of immersive “presence”, that white whale of VR. However, our experience in working on Rock Band VR shows that the immersive flowstate induced by action gameplay can actually inhibit “presence”; how can a player feel present in the moment if they’re hyper-focused on responding to visually-oriented, millisecond-sensitive gameplay challenges originally designed for flat screens? Thus far, most VR experiences have avoided this paradox by eschewing mechanical depth, but we believe there are other options. This talk provides a framework for evaluating the tradeoffs between mechanical depth & presence while discussing how we reinvented the classic Rock Band franchise in order to resolve this implicit tension in VR by utilizing other sensory channels and somatic cognitive processes.

mattboch__headshotMatt Boch began his career in games at Harmonix nine years ago, with a Visual and Environmental Studies degree from Harvard University. From 2007-2010, he worked as a hardware designer, developing the look, feel and functionality of Rock Band’s iconic set of instruments. Matt then moved from the world of plastic guitars to the arena of game design when he began prototyping what would become Dance Central, utilizing his love for both music and dance. He directed a team of over 100 developers, creating Harmonix’s newest innovation in music gaming, Fantasia: Music Evolved, a collaboration with Disney to bring the classic film into the 21st century. In 2015, he contributed product management, design, and code for Beat Sports, a title that launched with new Apple TV. He’s presently the lead designer on Rock Band VR, a title that reinvents classic Rock Band gameplay for the Oculus Rift.

Matt Boch is a visiting Associate Professor in game design at the NYU Game Center. He also  serves as a Creative Director at Harmonix Music Systems, designing and directing of some of Harmonix’s premier titles.

Over the course of his career he’s occupied a huge variety of roles: from designer and producer to coder, artist, and game writer. He’s developed a number of games independently, which have been exhibited at the New York MOMA, Indiecade, and more. Matt has also given a number of critically-focused presentations at events like the Queerness and Games Conference, the Nordic Game Conference, and the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. In his spare time, Matt makes video game remixes through his music project, anigif.

Free and open to the public.

Poster art by Michael Tunk. Get NYU Game Center art here.