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3D, Virtual Environments, Video Games and the Obsession with being Digitally Emmersed: By Chris Pratola
by Survey of Interactive Media

By Chris Pratola. A Lecture Arguing how society has become obsessed with Virtual Worlds and Using 3D to be more in touch with created realty. The move into the future of Gaming, Movies and beyond.

The Future of Interactive: 3D, Virtual Environments, Video Games and the Obsession with being Digitally Immersed.


Ever since the invention of Media, which I am referring to as Television, Movies and Video Games, designers, viewers and players have always wanted the experience to be more real. We want the world we see on screen to seem as real and connected to us as real life is. There have been many steps taken to make this possible. Movies, Television and games began to use P.O.V to make you feel like you were the person doing all the things in the scene. The only problem is that it doesn't always stimulate our senses to make us feel like it is real. We ultimately still feel like we are watching a 2D image. In the clip of “Wolfenstein 3D” (extremely old version), you see that you are in a first person like setting, but you don't feel like you are in the game. The technology isn't there for “Hyper Real” or for us to see this environment as real. Many films stopped using P.O.V after a while, because maybe they thought that it was a fad, and would go away. The true fact is that it will probably never go away, and may in fact replace our craving for the content.

What is our obsession with this notion of being apart of the game or environment? Are we trying to escape from our own life and feel like we have actually left? I agree completely that people want to escape their lives for a moment. We have seen this before in such crisis as the great depression. Movies during this time were extremely popular because people wanted to get away and enjoy themselves for an hour and not be in their lives. They could feel happy for a moment because they were watching other people’s liver be great. They were laughing, crying, feeling exciting and that made them feel good. Today, the content that we can watch is enormous and it's everywhere. We can watch it on the Internet, the television, Xbox, or any other gaming platform. People are constantly stepping out of their own lives to see a piece of someone else's. Although an old example, but still a good one, "Being John Malkovich" is a great example of how far people will go to experience a true reality in someone else's shoes. The fisheye view when inside Malkovich tries to give us a sense of being behind his eyes. The Clip of “Cloverfield” tries once again to bring us on the streets, and put us inside the action. This was relatively effect, but it was missing one element, which was depth. This would have been super effective in 3D as it would of given the filmmakers more tools to have the images come to live, as I would say.

In “Avatar,” the main character loved being jacked in an Avatar’s body, because he couldn’t walk. He escaped his real life, to another life that was better than his in some ways. The world was much more stimulating for him too and this brings me into the discussion on Video Games and Virtual Environments. These environments are being more and more popular because of their intense game play. James Cameron said in an interview that while the initial film was supposed to be shot in 2.3.5, they chose full screen mode because you saw more of the environment. It made you feel more like you were in it, and that shows the direction we are headed. The experience of watching "Avatar" was so exciting and mesmerizing that it became one of the highest grossing films of all time. People are jumping on the 3D wagon left and right to be apart of it and create new content. The video game itself is also in 3D where in the clip (although can’t see the 3D) tells us how much you feel like you are in the game. I think gamers everywhere have been waiting for this for a long, long time.

Technology is getting so advanced that it is hard for us to catch up with all the latest going on. As you can see in the few clips I posted of Video Games, the desire for realistic content is always increasing. Now that 3D is a possibility, people are reacting to it more on the digital games and animation side than anything else. In the clip of the base jumper jumping out of a plane, the gamer can get a sense of he is actually falling, and someone having a connection to the experience like never before. That’s what is so fascinating about it. People can experience things that they would normally never do or don’t have the chance to.   This is starting to get popular in the medical side as well, with helping people get over phobias. As you can see in the clip, there are studies going on to see if people can get over their fear of heights, closed spaces etc, through a virtual reality simulation through a virtual world. I find this very interesting because when will the difference be unnoticeable? When will we be watching and forget that we are watching a movie? This can be a huge benefit for people who are afraid of a lot of things and help them get over it by actually doing it in a non-harmful way. The technology is ultimately filling the gap between reality and virtual space.

We are also using this “Virtual Space” to go where we normally can’t go; like prison. The clip of “ Gone Gitmo” found in the game “Second Life” gives us the experience that we are in prison, with no way of getting out. This is more popularly used from a journalist standpoint to wake people up on what is going on with the treatment of terrorist hostages. It’s a useful tool, and an exciting age for the digital age. Anything is possible. Anywhere is possible. When will these lines overlap and break out from one another. An interesting clip, though never possible but it has an underlying truth to it is the “Futurama” clip where Fri is being attacked by video game characters. This would obviously never happen and couldn’t happen, but I think the underlying truth is that eventually it is going to be so real that you are going to feel like you are actually doing whatever your doing. Its inevitable, especially with the way technology has advance within the last ten years. We are on a fast track pace to explore possibilities that we never could have thought were possible twenty years ago.

Whatever the thing we are watching may be, we want to be more immersed in it until we are the game. We control it, and feel like we have control over it. We want the ultimate experience whether its life, or life inside a box. We are always being immersed in content, and peeking into the lives of someone else to get away from who we are, or to experience something we normally can’t. The 3D experience will make this all possible soon enough, and the limits will be pushed on the content we view.

3D Avatar Video Game 3D Avatar Video Game by James Cameron, Ubisoft, lightstorm (2010) Gameplay demo for Avatar 3D game
Wolfenstein 3D Gameplay by zirblazer (2007) Wolfenstein 3D Gameplay.
Base Jumping Simulator Base Jumping Simulator by James Cameran/Lightstorm (2010) Avatar 3D game trailer
Virtual Environments to help cure phobias Virtual Environments to help cure phobias by Virtualware (2007) Virtual environments used to help cure phobias
Virtual Guantanamo Virtual Guantanamo by n/a (2009) A brief preview of Second Life, inside Gauntanamo bay. Feel what its like to be in prison.
Cloverfield first person POV night vision by Matt Reeves (2008) A first-person camera is used in Cloverfield to heighten narrative intensity
Futurama - Raiders of the Last Arcade by Matt Groening, David X. Cohen (2002) Fry must save the world from video game characters.