Randy Pausch passes away

I was sad to learn today of Randy Pausch’s passing. Randy Pausch was of course huge in the game industry, as one of the founders of Carnegie Mellon’s well-known Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) lab.
My interaction with Randy was years and years ago, when we were both getting involved in the budding virtual reality scene, back in 1992. I was looking for a graduate school – Randy was head of the VR Lab at the University of Virginia, and known for his work “Virtual Reality for Five Dollars a Day”. He was one of the first wave of garage VR developers, people who cobbled together cheap headsets and tracking systems to experience the wonders of real-time stereoscopic immersive displays. Linda Jacobson highlighted this tech and these people in her book, Garage Virtual Reality.
I was trying to decide whether to accept an invitation to go to graduate school at the University of Virginia, or go over to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Randy and I had a number of conversations about his lab, the direction they were going, and their funding situation. Ultimately, I decided to go to UNC-CH, which already had a well established VR program (pretty much the only one outside of the one I was already in at the HIT Lab at the University of Washington). Over the years I’ve always kept an eye on what Randy was doing, but never really caught up with him again. We have truly lost an amazing person today, and a foundational member of the game development community. Yet another reminder to always love the people in your life…