Janet H. Murray

Versions: The Creative Landscape of Virtual Reality – YouTube

The video stream of our panel from the  Versions conference on VR curated by Kill Screen and New INC at the New Museum in NYC March 2016.

I think there are disappointments ahead in the short term because expectations have been raised too high before genre conventions – -a “language of VR” — has been invented, but I remain optimistic about the long-term power of immersive, navigable, 3D art and entertainment.

This event as a whole offers a snapshot of a particular moment in which a diversely situated  community of practice has been called into being while platforms are still in flux. There is excitement from all the commercial interest and the emergence of some early high-production-values examples. But directions are unclear.

Some of my take-aways from this very well curated set of presentations:

  1. There is a tension between film and games as the model for VR.
  2. Since the interactor’s experience of agency is always the most important design value for digital environments, games are a more productive starting point.
  3. Hand controllers are key to success because they give us a presence in the virtual role, functioning as “threshold objects” when they mimic two-handed operations we can see.
  4. Virtual vehicles are a promising approach to constraining and empowering interaction.
  5. Documentary film approaches may work, shaping interaction as a visit (as I describe in Chapter 4 Immersion in  Hamlet on the Holodeck). To be successful, designers need to invent:
    1. interaction conventions for  navigating the space,
    2. cues to entice us to navigate,
    3. dramatic composition of the experience to rewards us for being in one place rather than another,
    4.  a fourth wall equivalent to make clear what we can and cannot do.