It’s not often we here at Game Rant report on a story of truly tragic significance. In an industry otherwise predicated upon fun and frustration, instances of genuine loss — of the sort that befell noted games designer Andrew Reisse just two days ago — remain mercifully scarce. Reisse, a co-founder of California-based outfit Oculus VR, died on Thursday morning following a hit-and-run incident in the city of Santa Ana, CA. His alleged killer, 21-year old Victor Sanchez, is said to have been absconding from police at the time of the incident, following an earlier altercation with officers that left one accomplice dead.
Sanchez’s Dodge Charger struck the designer as he attempted to cross the district’s Flower Street/McArthur Boulevard intersection; a relative stone’s throw away from the 33 year old’s company offices in Irvine. Described by colleagues as a “brilliant computer graphics engineer, an avid photographer and… a true loyal friend” Reisse’s work appeared in “thousands” of games during his lifetime, informing a myriad of successful titles.
Reisse’s final venture, the Oculus Rift gaming headset, received its funding through popular pledge website Kickstarter.com. In a testament to the technologies’ widespread appeal, over 9-and-a-half thousand members backed the fundraiser, generating a gargantuan 2.4 million in production costs. The project’s initial sum: a comparatively paltry $250,000.
Picking up where the likes of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy left off, Oculus looks to revolutionize the games industry by taking players inside their favourite titles as never before. Famed developer John Carmack touted the Rift device as “[probably] the best VR demo the world has ever seen”, whilst Gabe Newell called it “incredibly exciting.”
As developers continue to receive their Rift kits this week, they do so in the knowledge that Oculus itself is grieving. Reviews that hit the web in the wake of Reisse’s passing (but before the victim’s identity became publicly known on Friday) are overwhelmingly positive in nature. With a grief counsellor on-hand to tend to the late designer’s colleagues, it can only be hoped that this warm reception offers friends and family some form of comfort.
Suspects in the auto-murder case, including Sanchez and two of his passengers are now in police custody. All three men are confirmed to have been on probation at the time of the incident, with each of them wanted in connection with a series of earlier crimes.
We here at Game Rant send our heartfelt condolences to Andrew Reisse’s family, friends, and co-workers in this time of tragedy.