image001Esteemed artist, author, educator and technology pioneer Brenda Laurel is being honored with the Virtual World Society’s Nextant Prize at the 2017 Augmented World Expo.

Santa Clara, CA: The Virtual World Society will award its preeminent Nextant Prize to Dr. Brenda Laurel on June 1, 2017 at the Augmented World Expo Auggie Awards .  Virtual World Society Board Member and VR pioneer, Jacquelyn Morie, will present the Nextant Prize, which represents the spirit of the society “to unlock minds and link hearts to create a better world.”

Brenda Laurel is a true pioneer in creating ground breaking virtual experiences and has inspired generations of new practitioners in the VR industry that is just now burgeoning into mainstream awareness. As the recipient of the Nextant Prize she represents the timeless vision and uplifting enthusiasm for the future that is embodied in all her work.  As a contemporary of the first Nextant Prize recipient (Randy Pausch), she has earned the greatest respect and awe from the citizens of Virtual Worlds as a model, mentor and philosopher.

Dr. Laurel’s 1991 landmark book, Computers as Theatre (re-released and updated in 2104), provided critical insight and inspiration for a new generation of artists and scientists developing more human-centered approaches to technology. Her games and immersive works helped realign technology to a more diverse playing field, opening up these areas to include all genders and cultures. Her publications on design and interactivity are still critical reading for today’s inventors and creators because they touch so many human aspects of computer technology.  Her latest writings [for example: “AR and VR: Cultivating the Garden”, and “What is Virtual Reality”] on how Virtual Reality should continue to grow and develop are must reads for today’s immersive designers.

Tom Furness, the Virtual World Society Founder states: “Its our great honor to have Brenda accept our award. She is the type of person we want as a positive model and mentor for all the generations to come.” We are lucky to have her as part of the first annual Virtual World Society speakers series at the AWE 2017, speaking on “Making Places Meaningful and Special through Virtual Technologies”.  She will be accompanied by her co-panelists and fellow VR pioneers, Jacquelyn Morie and Linda Jacobson.

The Augmented World Expo (AWE) is considered home to the Virtual World Society, because of the event’s ability to energize a diverse excellence needed to advance the future of virtual reality and augmented reality. The Virtual World Society is building the foundation of a global collaboration of regional and professional affiliates throughout the world who contribute talents and resources in researching, building, and applying virtual worlds to transform lives.

Next year’s Nextant Prize committee is being formed and is accepting nominations for 2018. The committee seeks all ages, professions, and backgrounds of people who serve us all with their guiding light. Visit to know more, and join us to nominate your inspiration. Learn to become a VWS Ambassador to lead the application of Virtual Worlds to where they are needed most.

Dr. Furness coined “Nextant” to describe a way to guide our future.  It combines the desire to know what’s “next” and a navigation tool, “sextant,” used by mariners to look toward the horizon to guide their course. A “Nextant” is a person whom others can turn to for inspiration, guidance, and role modeling. The Nextant Prize is awarded to those whose compassion is their compass to guide their passion to “be the future,” the theme of Dr. Furness’s 2015 AWE keynote address.

Visit the Virtual World Society at (AWE Exhibit Booth #405) to see how the world can be changed for the better. Virtual World Society members receive a 55% discount to the conference (code: AWE17VWS).

About Dana Mott

Dana Mott is the Senior Editor for the Virtual World Society. She is an interactive storyteller using virtual worlds to increase audience engagement and participant agency for entertainment, informal education, and therapy applications.
Press Release – Nextant Award 2017 – Brenda Laurel
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