Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story
This is a story from the Storygeist. A blog focusing on the near future narratives in Technology and Spirituality which are impacting our society, the core family and the individual.
The nature of the beast – the immersive experience
But let’s go back a little in time, to 2004 to be exact and reminiscence on a golden gaming oldie. That year Doom 3 launched and in many ways set a new golden standard for the quality of graphics available for first person shooter games. But even more interesing was the psychological impact this game had upon senses. This was quite an interesting threshold, because for the first time we had a game which just wasn’t a game.It was an immersive experience.I clearly remember playing this with the lights turned down at night. And frankly, it scared the hell out of me. It was actually so damned scary of an experience, that I remember turning the sound down, way, way down, as low as it could go, just to make sure, I wouldn’t choke on y own screams at the next horror awaiting around the corner. This was a staggering revalation, to be transported into a world which ceased to be mere bits and bytes. tnis was something else. A full on experience which was able to batter my senses into the feeling of just being there. And giving a heart attack at the same time. Although Doom 3 was a rather mindless and unimaginative exercise in gameplay, this was the first hint at the true potential of the kind of immersiveness which VR could deliver in the near future.
Scare the bejesus out of me
Fast forward to the glorious year of 2016 and we have another beast in the house which hints at the nature of VR. Take look at the video below which shows the first hand on reactions of IGN’s (entertainment site) staff to the Paranormal Activity VR game\experience. Watching this, another revelation becomes apparent. Especially when we reach the climax of the experience, and shit really hits the fan in the haunted house, the seasoned gameplayers are turned into crying babies. Watching this, I had goosebumps, because I knew that what Doom 3 offered over a decade ago, was nothing compared to the sheer schock, exhiliration, nauseau, and terror which VR will have on our senses in the coming years.
“Cheap scares” do not equal genuine storytelling
So we are the dawn of a new storytelling medium. Everyone seems to agree on that. And in some part it is true. Seeing the kind of visceral and quite traumatic reactions this medium will provide is promising and uplifting. This holds a lot of potential. But as the title says, cheap scares are just a small subset of the tools and emotions which are called upon in such an advanced storytelling medium as for example film. I will not bang too much on the storytelling skills which are at display in the “Paranormal activity VR”experience, because they are certainly on display there. There is a clear escalation, from subtle to the more gross, there are lots of interesting foreshadowing tools as to what will happen. There is even visual subtletly, and visual ambivalence hidden in the shadows. And this is much more scary than any gross splatter scares provided by Doom 3. But we are still in a very small spectre of the human emotions. Where is there a place to be amazed, to be touched, or to even cry a little? Not in the house of Paranormal Activity. Given this, I think this experience is quite emotionally flat.
Interactive storytelling as art. Well, sort of interactive.
But instead of bashing way to much at paranormal VR, because I still think it’s quite an amazing acheivement, I want to give you another case example. This time it’s an amazing piece of interactive story which was driven by nothing less than true emotions of loss and grief. It’s quite a rare experience in the interactive/gaming world to aim as high as the “That Dragon Cancer”. This little game which lasts just under two hours was created by a team of two people only. Ryan Green, the main creator of the game saw this as a an opportunity to deal with the death of his son. This spawned not only an interactive story never seen before, but was also the birth of a poetic experience which challenged what a game, or interactive story should be. This game was also the breeeding ground of a slew of conflicting human emotions. Guiding you through a first hand experience of what it is like to deal with a dying son in your family, it is both heart breaking and traumatic, in equal mesures. Ryan Green should be congratulated to handle such a difficult subject matter in such a poetic, and transcendent manner.
And although I am amazed at the acheivement, and the genuine emotions at display here, “That Dragon Cancer” has an inherent flaw in it. And that is not Ryan Green’s fault, but a challenge which every struggling storyteller will face when dealing with VR or interactive storytelling. Despite its beaty and heart breaking experience, “That Dragon Cancer” still remains a very linear experience, where you just sit back and enjoy a story well told. There is inherently nothing wrong about this, but being a passive spectator to unfolding events is not what will transcend Virtual Reality into a full blown artistic medium, just like film did a century ago.
I am proud to present my latest showreel for 2018. For inquiries regarding work, projects and collabs, please contact me through the website’s form.read more
Panacea (the novel) has just been released by the UK Publisher The Book Folks on Amazon. Many thanks to the Publisher and the other people involved.read more
My deep gratitide goes out to the whole team at The Preset Factory for including me in their FEATURED interviews series! Wonderful contact, great products, and impeccable customer service! Thank you so much!read more
The 1st teaser trailer for the novel and movie “PANACEA” is available now.
Novel release: 2017 Movie release: 2018
The posters for the upcoming movie & novel PANACEA are available below.
The movie is in pre-production with a planned release at the end of 2018. The novel will be released through the London based publishing house “The Book Folks” at the end of 2017.
I think there will alwayas be a public for sensitive cinema made as an art-experience, as there will always exist a public for fine literature. But I also see the emergence of a few trends which might change the way we make movies in the coming decade. And I believe this coming 10-15 years will bring forth new ways to tell stories, unlike anything we’ve seen before, and it will be more accessible than it has ever been before. All of this will have a major impact on the Auteur Filmmaker/Storyteller. In the most profound way.read more
“Rene v3.2” – a short story about a female robot companion. A woman made only to fulfill other’s needs. Seen through Rene’s eyes, the story takes the worn cliche of the dangerous Artificial Intelligence, and turns it on its head. It asks if A.I.’s will be able to replace true human relationships? Especially the ones of the intimate kind. How might we treat them? How will the Robot Companion react emotionally? What rights will she have if abused? And is she less of a human if artificially made?read more
“Rene v3.2” – a short story about a female robot companion. A woman made only to fulfill other’s needs. Seen through Rene’s eyes, the story takes the worn cliche of the dangerous Artificial Intelligence, and turns it on its head. It asks if A.I.’s will be able to replace true human relationships? Especially the ones of the intimate kind. How might we treat them? How will the Robot Companion react emotionally? What rights will she have if abused? And what is the nature of consciousness? The very thing that defines a human.read more
Last time, I concluded at how important it is to arrive at a deeper emotional connection between us, the writers, and the characters in our stories. The true stuff of life, our hard earned emotional experience which has burnt its way into our subconscious, and made us into who we are. This time around I would like to go deeper into my own experience of enquiry about the main character of my novel. A protoganist which was as far away from my own personality as I could possibly imagine. Or so I thought initially. But more importantly I would like to break down my process of enquiry into some more manageable steps and conclusions. So others might hopefully take away something of value from this.read more
As the Sciences plunge into the impossibilities of Quantum physics, decipher the world of vibrations and frequencies, technology closes in on the ancient truths which the mystical traditions have spoken to us from the dawn of time. And as our world is hurled into a wrenching acceleration of change, we believe that stories are essential to our inner development. A ritual which passes timeless values from one generation to the next. And encapsulate not only intellectual meaning, but also a beating heart which can feed our souls. Join us and read this to get a bird’s eye view of our stories.read more