Real & Virtual Worlds — Week 10(Viewing / Reviewing)

This week on the Audiences & Experiences unit, we had a more interesting set of tasks.

Voices of VR (#502)

First off, we were given two more Voices of VR podcast episodes to listen to (#502 and #869). The first of these this week (#502) was an interview with Jessica Brillhart, the principle filmmaker for virtual reality at Google.

They spoke mostly about the podcast host’s “Elemental theory” of presence, where he separates them into four elements, each representing a kind of presence. This feels somewhat arbitrary, but feels like quite a nice way to visualise these forms of presence.

I’m not certain how much practical application this concept actually has, but it’s an interesting thought experiment in that it might be a good way to explain these levels of presence to a layman.

The most interesting part of this discussion to me was the discussion about senses, and how that they felt that not every sense is necessarily required in order to form an experience. Specifically she tried to quite (Though I’m not certain how accurate the quote actually was) from Stephen Hawking, about how he felt that even without the use of his hands, he felt he was still able to experience life to the fullest.

This could have interesting applications in VR, in that even though you don’t currently have access to the sensation of touch (at least not yet — Maybe in the future, who knows?) it might be possible to make an experience feel immersive enough that this isn’t a noticeable difference, in the same kind of way that removing senses in some experiences may amplify the intensity of sensation in others (Things like blindfolding for erotic activities come to mind as an example of this, though I’m sure there are other relevant examples).

Voices of VR (#869)

The second episode of the voices of VR podcast we were asked to listen to this week (#869) focused on a far more philosophical theme, that of the moral dilemmas of anthropomorphized virtual beings.

The obvious issues that were brought up regarding this is the implications of the existence of such beings meaning that there is a high potential that they might be used to manipulate a user by large companies or similar groups, and I could easily see this being the case since because of how much we seem to treat such beings as “human” (even more so than animals in a lot of cases, which was also touched on in this podcast).

Another part of this discussion I thought was really interesting was the idea of these artificial intelligences being seen as “slaves”, and that we treat them horribly for some reason due to some kind of disconnect, and potentially associating them as more of a human-like thing would allow us to treat them with more respect, and they go on to talk about whether or not this is necessary at all given that they are not (at least not yet?) beings with thoughts or feelings of their own. In a similar manner, a lot of voices we associate with AI like Alexa or Siri are almost personified by giving them names and humanoid voices.

360 Video

This week, we were also tasked with borrowing a 360 video camera from the university. I may have to delay this somewhat, and retroactively add to the blog here when I’m back on campus sometime in the next week or so. Hopefully this is acceptable.

Project Work

Following some discussion with both Camille and Chris, I’ve decided to shift the focus of the game somewhat once again — To focus more on the theme of resource management that already existed within the theme, rather than the idea of technology specifically, as I think I was finding it awkward to fit that theme into the gameplay I already had in place.

My new plan is to turn the game into essentially a resource management simulation game, with the “city” setting from before as a potential environment for it.

More self notes: Potentially might focus more on real issues, as reading through the project brief, there is emphasis on real life scenarios. Perhaps I could shift this towards a similar model but focusing more on this constructing and placing of objects in a level but in a scenario in reality, perhaps to do with developing countries, lack of water in certain countries, and things like that, to give a more solidified message to the game that I feel has been lacking.

One possible option — Rather than constructing a city (or similar environment) you essentially function as a being dropping resources to areas of a town, with the goal being to maximise the impact of the limited resources you are provided with.