Makers of The Metaverse: Mathew Georghiou Of MediaSpark On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Be motivated to continually learn new things on your own.
The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mathew Georghiou.
Mathew is a leading expert in the design of educational games and simulations and his creations have reached millions of people around the world through thousands of schools, nonprofits, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.
Mathew is also an engineer, inventor, designer, writer, and entrepreneur. Mathew has founded and operates businesses in educational technology, toys, social media news and advertising, and metal art and signage.
Learn more at Georghiou.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?
I’m originally from Greek Cyprus. My family moved to Canada when I was very young. I earned academic and athletic scholarships to go to university where I studied engineering and math. I started my career at IBM and soon after resigned to start my own business when I was 26 years old.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s when video games and computers first started entering homes. I was an early adopter and spent a lot of time playing games like Atari, ColecoVision, and Intellivision and then started programming with a Vic 20 and Commodore 64. I programmed my first game around the age of 12 using Basic.
This early experience in gaming and tech shaped my future more than anything.
Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.
I really disliked school. Academically I did well, but I found it to be boring and uninspiring. When I entered college and had more flexibility, I treated the academics like a game.
I avoided the unnecessary “grind” of attending classes by skipping everything that wasn’t mandatory and instead learned on my own. My feeling was that I didn’t need to attend a class to have my professor read my textbook to me. Some of my instructors thought I skipped classes because I was lazy, but I was really just gaming the system.
Sadly, this old-school academic experience continues today, despite the amazing technology and resources available.
I’m inspired to change it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?
I twice had publicly-traded companies plan to acquire my business, but both went bankrupt before the deals closed.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I visited an investor to pitch them on my business and while I was plugging in my computer, I ripped the socket out of the wall and tripped the power in the office. Awkward 🙂
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
After the dot com crash of 2001, and the unexpected bankruptcy of the companies that were going to acquire us, our business was in financial trouble and barely hanging on. We had over $1 million in debt, no assets, and very little revenue coming in. I had also accumulated over $125,000 in credit card debt that I used to pay my employees.
I had made arrangements with all of our creditors to give us time to repay our debts, but when months turned into years, some became impatient and they started to squeeze me. One creditor called me in for a face-to-face meeting and I was mentally preparing for them to squeeze me too.
To my surprise and relief, they offered to invest more money in my business. That investment was a turning point for us.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, we are always creating new products. The newest and most exciting is businessXP — the world’s first and only fully game based experiential training for anyone who wants to start a career in business, level up their career, or start their own business.
businessXP is a faster, more effective, and more affordable alternative to business school.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?
They each have their strengths.
(1) Virtual Reality (VR) is amazing because you can create any environment you can dream of and participants can be physically and emotionally engaged in the experience. In the context of education, you can train in environments that may be too dangerous, costly, or inaccessible in the real world. You can role-play realistic experiences. You can be a cell travelling through the human body. Psychologists can help patients overcome trauma. People with physical challenges can achieve a greater sense of freedom. The possibilities are endless.
(2) The tactile capabilities of VR are intriguing. Doctors can practice surgery to perfect the fine-motor skills of their hands. You can “hold” virtual organs to learn how the human body functions. You can physically assemble a piece of equipment. You can shake hands or hug friends located across the world. Soon, you may even be able to sense textures and temperature.
(3) Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR & MR) are amazing because you can overlay virtual objects onto the real world. The ability to be guided and take action in real time in a way that directly affects the real world has incredible potential. Mechanics can be guided to repair complex equipment with visual cues. First responders can be warned of dangers in real time. People with cognitive challenges can be guided to cook a meal or find their way home.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?
(1) In the context of learning and education, the biggest challenge is the same one I have experienced for 20 years — overcoming the status quo to convince educators and administrators to adopt new methods of learning. There are going to be a lot of poorly designed experiences while the technologies mature and these negative experiences will slow down adoption.
To address this concern, designers need to choose the best technology to achieve their instructional goals. I have created a template to help with this —
Comparison of Web App, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented & Mixed Reality (AR) for Creating Learning Experiences
(2) I worry about VR headsets and AR/MR-capable devices being the new digital divide. Previously it was access to computers and the Internet — and as that divide diminishes, we now have a new divide emerging with these specialized devices.
To address this concern, the ability to share devices should be considered more deeply. Current VR headsets cannot be worn for long periods of time, which means that sharing becomes a viable option in the short term.
(3) I’m concerned with how the worst of the Internet will carry forward into these new experiences. Fake news, bullying, toxic communications, privacy, security, and all of the challenges the world has already been dealing with unsuccessfully.
To address this concern, further cooperation is needed between technology developers and law makers to strike a proper balance between the need for open and free communication with privacy, security, and mental health.
I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?
These technologies will enhance career and on-the-job training in all industries.
Early adopters will be industries that have training challenges related to danger, cost, or accessibility.
Broader adoption will see these technologies used to build deeper human relationships at a distance — with coworkers, partners, customers, and shareholders.
Brands will integrate these technologies with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the blockchain to provide unique and personalized offers and experiences for their customers.
Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?
Time, health, and relationships are three of the most important aspects of the human experience.
These technologies will give us more time by automating much of the daily grind in our lives. They will act as “second brains” that allow us to focus our attention on activities that are personally more meaningful to us.
These technologies will give us better health by allowing us to monitor our personal health more closely, helping us prevent, identify, diagnose, and treat health issues. They will help us overcome disabilities and provide better care for those who need it.
These technologies will allow us to expand our tribes and deepen our human relationships by providing more ways to communicate and the ability to have shared experiences at a distance.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?
Myth — playing games is just a guilty pleasure to pass time.
Reality — all games are educational.
Games are the most powerful force in our Earthly universe. The amount of human energy that is invested in playing games is astounding. We can harness that power to accomplish amazing things.
What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”
There are many career opportunities in this space, so it really depends on the role you want to play, but here are some things that apply widely:
- Be highly interested in the work.
- Be motivated to continually learn new things on your own.
- Be productive and get things done.
- Be a problem solver not just a doer.
- Communicate clearly and work well with others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m a big believer in the power of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is more than just running a business. Entrepreneurship is a mindset that empowers individuals to take control of their own future and helps them realize personal goals and objectives. It’s about freedom, lifestyle, self-confidence, family, community, and more.
I believe the entrepreneurial mindset is one of the most meaningful gifts we can give to the world.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
My social mission is to help facilitate entrepreneurship around the world through game-based learning, so I’m happy to connect with anyone who shares this goal.
Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success in your great work!
Makers of The Metaverse: Mathew Georghiou Of MediaSpark On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.