Today, we’re excited to kick off a new series highlighting the amazing people building for Horizon Worlds, as well as their creations.
We’ll be alternating between Q&As with developers and in-depth looks at some of the worlds they build.
To get us started, we asked Ang’l Artiste to share her journey from being a teacher who’s passionate about art to building artistic VR worlds. As the creator of a Black art museum in Horizon Worlds, Ang’l frequently spends hours a day in Horizon Worlds building creative spaces for what has come to be her community.
Tell us about yourself and what got you interested in VR?
Growing up, I was fully immersed in art and games, especially customizing avatars or virtual spaces. I spent a lot of time in games like Sims and IMVU, so I should’ve known that what I do now would be my calling.
I started using VR because I was struggling with social anxiety, suicidal ideation, and postpartum and seasonal depression. My headset gave me an escape from the struggles I faced in reality by taking me to a completely different environment.
When I got access to Horizon Worlds, I was completely hooked. And when I discovered that it gave me a new opportunity to create art media, I knew I had to dive in.
What do you draw upon for inspiration when building in Horizon Worlds?
I try to answer two questions when I do serious builds: How can I give this a wow factor that will set my world apart, and how can I put the spotlight on other people? I love working with teams and helping others get recognition.
I get inspired by spending time with my friends in VR, and sometimes someone will say something and my brain will just fire up with a whole blueprint of a new world. And the next thing I know, I’ve built a new world and I’m ready for the next one!
What do you want people to take away from their experience with your worlds?
I love it when people get fully immersed in them. I like to say that I create my builds with emotion, and I want people who come to my worlds to experience what I’m feeling.
I think of it as the same thing as feeling the artist’s love in a romantic painting or a musician’s passion in a sad song. I think my worlds have been successful because people soak up the energy I put into them.
People won’t stay in a world just because you’re a skilled builder. If it doesn’t radiate emotion, it won’t leave a lasting impression.
Are you a programmer/creator as your day job, or do you see this as a hobby?
I’m a school teacher, and I’ve always wanted my students to be more immersed in art because so many of them are told it’s not an important subject or that the school doesn’t have resources for art classes. Art was my emotional outlet when I was in school, and it’s made me who I am today. I want to share that path with like-minded young people.
Do you collaborate with others, and if so, what’s that experience like for you?
Collaboration is by far the best thing about Horizon Worlds and I’m fully dedicated to working with others on my builds or theirs. I’ve gotten great recognition for my work in the metaverse, and I didn’t earn that by myself. I want everyone I work with to share the praise. I’ve never been competitive about art because everyone’s vision is different and everyone benefits when you combine artistic styles.
It’s so uplifting when you finish a build and you get to see everyone’s style meshed together and forming something even bigger. It’s intoxicating and amazing to have that connection with others.
What’s your best advice for getting started on building worlds for Horizon Worlds?
I tell anyone getting started to stay in the tutorial world for a few days. Test out every button, every shape, every texture, animation, text, control, and so on. Don’t start building a world until you know the basics like the back of your hand.
What do you think the ultimate potential is for Horizon Worlds?
Horizon Worlds will change in many ways. It’s going to create a lot of entrepreneurs and spark flames in anyone with a creative mind. But its main promise is giving people courage. Because of my social anxiety, I never in a million years would have thought I would perform my music in front of crowds of people, give tours at my art museum, or be willing to have open discussions about serious topics and have people want to hear what I have to say. I did all of those things and more in Horizon Worlds.
How do you think VR fits into the future vision of the metaverse?
We’ve had metaverses and open-world social interactive games before VR, but there’s one thing that sets Horizon Worlds apart: being in that headset fully immerses you in the worlds. You’re not seeing your avatar in the third-person view, and you’re not controlling your character in a game. You're controlling yourself within a game. VR lets you feel like you’re in whatever space you’re in and that you’re having an in-person conversation with someone, not just being in the same game. That’s a game changer.
What’s your favorite VR experience?
It’ll always be the grand opening of my Black art museum, A Better World Museum AiR: ANGLtheARTIST. Before that, I would just create and publish worlds and then world-hop to spread the word. But with that one, I used social media to promote it. I was completely overwhelmed when so many people, including complete strangers, showed up. Some people stayed for hours, which says a lot because people are so accustomed to world-hopping in Horizon Worlds. It’s been amazing to be able to do something I really love.