VR Starship Design
Beta Competition


To highlight the relationship between science fiction and the development of virtual reality, the Museum of Science Fiction & Isovista are holding a VR Starship Design beta competition. This beta competition is open to all students, designers, engineers, builders, and artists. People from the United States and abroad may enter the competition.  Starships must be primarily built in a VR modeling tool such as (but not limited to) Gravity Sketch, Oculus Medium, or Google Tiltbrush.  Final works will displayed within an exploratory multiuser Unity 3D gallery space and shared at Escape Velocity 2019, the Museum of Science Fiction's annual conference in Washington DC.

Starship Submission Dates:  March 4st, 2019 to April 20th, 2019

Escape Velocity 2019 will be held on May 24 – 26
Get Tickets to Escape Velocity 2019

 artist: Mike Jelinek 2019, Gravity Sketch  


Virtual Reality, Science, & Science Fiction

A great VR Starship might center on a slick visual design, but that beauty is often built on much more. Ideas of culture (warlike/exploratory – organic/robotic), technology (warp drive/solar sails, rockets) and stories of the crew (a solo pilot, a unique team, a faceless army) all inform the artist’s design choices. It's in this vein that science and science fiction intertwine and support each other.

In VR, the artist and their work express the affordances of the software. Here, the competition hopes to push for the creation of ever better tools and features within the emergent domain of VR modeling and world building. Winning artists will be asked to share their design process and production pipelines.

This competition and its long-term goal of sharing work in a multiuser space connects the world of fiction to HCI & UX driven design. Combined, we look not to copy reality, but to create it. We look to leverage 30+ years of VR design history, with science fiction creativity towards the understanding of an innovative social interface – the virtual museum.

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Why Beta, Why Starships?

There is a vastness to the virtual that creates not only great opportunities, but also great challenges. VR is an emerging medium whose design practices and production pipelines are a work in progress. VR Starships also represent a manageable starting point for collecting, evaluating, and presenting virtual works. After the competition, the starships will be part of a VR Gallery design internship. Interns will learn about the history & theory of virtual spaces by reviewing innovative work collected over the past 25 years. They will then create their own galleries, with these ships as one option for content.

"In future years, this competition may include: VR props, avatars, buildings, and scenes. It could go even further and explore interactivity, storytelling, musical creation, music concerts, and all manner of creative virtual expression. In coming years, as this competition develops, we hope you join the conversation."
- Dr. Steve Guynup | Veteran VR Developer, Artist & Teacher


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   History & Design of VR Galleries, VR presentation 2019, Dr. Steve Guynup & Adam Walker


About the Museum

MOSF   The Museum of Science Fiction believes that science fiction is rich with ideas that can serve as a springboard for curiosity and project-based learning activities. Based on the belief that science fiction holds educational value for all ages, the Museum and its partner organizations endeavor to develop and tailor our educational competitions to appeal to a wide variety of students, as well as the general public.

Get Tickets to Escape Velocity 2019

The Museum of Science Fiction is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to make a measurable positive impact on STEAM-related educational activities.

The Museum of Science Fiction believes that virtual reality represents both a bold new territory for creative exploration as well as a medium whose history is the very stuff of science fiction. Cyberspaces, holodecks, and countless other works of fiction and fantasy have shaped our understanding of the virtual and its coming potential.

Escape Velocity 2019 will be held on May 24 – 26

Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745
(301) 965-4000 – room reservations

Washington DC’s National Harbor complex is across the Potomac River from historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
Exit 2A on the Beltway

Room block: Escape Velocity

Get a room now!

About Isovista

In 1995 VRML, or Virtual Reality Modeling Language, was introduced and a wave of interest in developing online 3D worlds, spaces, interfaces, and art ensued. It was a heady time, with so much hype on one side and crude bleeding edge technology on the other. In the midst of it, sites like Web3DArt and MacWeb3D supported communities of creative developers. Novel interfaces, rich theory, and art work that literally broke reality apart was the order of the day.

In that light, we hope to share past lessons and inspire future designers. This site is dedicated to old friends who ran those early community sites and to today’s young developers who have taken up the challenge of creating a new virtual reality.


Two years ago, Museum of Science Fiction VP Bruce Falk was at the Serious Play Conference. He was looking to bring new talent to the Escape Velocity. He came across a gentleman doing a general demo on VR technology and use. No product was being pitched, it was just an introduction to VR technology to those new to it and a chance for deeper conversation to those already involved. Seeing people happily chatting with this person was the main reason for the invitation to Escape Velocity 2018. The second reason was a bit curious, as this long haired, goateed gentleman looked (and acted) an awful lot like Jeff Bridges in Tron 2. 

Dr. Guynup’s University of Baltimore student interns
Rayne & Jerrod Demo Tiltbrush at Escape Velocity 2018
AiP-OD student AJ Stenclik shares the 2014 Isovista Art Gallery
at the 2018 Serious Play Conference.

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VR Starship - Images

VR Starship - Press Release Plain Text

VR Starship - Press Release.docx

VR Starship - Press Release.pdf

VR Starship - Poster (8.5 x 11)

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