In October, the NY Comic Con (“Con”) and the Future of Storytelling (“FOST”) both descended on New York. Each one had mass exhibits, virtual reality installations, interactive panels and special guests. Although both were magnificent and delivered on what was expected of them, there was something missing…
Separately that weekend, I was having drinks with a girlfriend and she asked me what I’ve been up to. I proceeded to tell her about Con and FOST and this new world of Virtual and Augmented Reality. “It seems more for men than women,” she said, “since men like to escape reality while women like to expand and learn about new ones.”
That was an interesting point of view and I wondered if I agreed. After all, I saw men, women and children enjoy themselves at these events and try out VR, but what was missing for me was RELEVANCE.
Perhaps it is because I am a woman, or maybe it’s because I’m well embedded in the world of millennials but the content and technology I was looking for was embedded not in ESCAPISM but grounded in RELEVANCE and EXPANDED REALITIES.
I’m defining Expanded Realities as: character, storylines and technology that although different from my current reality, still holds a familiarity with the way I live, the things I care about and/or open me up to new ways of seeing the world through positive outcomes and experiences. After all, who needs more violence and negative content (there’s enough of that in the real world). In addition, expanded reality needs to grip my heart in a very human way. This thought line, had me wondering…
ARE THE MASTERS AND CREATORS OF CONTENT AND TECHNOLOGY TRYING TO CREATE A GENERATION OF ESCAPISM? OR DO THEY HAVE THE POWER OF CREATING A BETTER FUTURE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY AND STORYTELLING?
About a month ago, I was at the Brookfield Place in NY where Charity Water was having a massive Virtual Reality installation. It was an amazing feel good event that ran for a few weeks and raised a significant amount of money for the charity. The proposition was simple: watch our 8-minute VR film and unlock $30 dollars from an anonymous donor. For the viewers, they got to contribute to a cause by watching a film. For Charity Water, it was a way to get their organization known and a vehicle for fundraising. And for the mysterious donor, well it got hundreds of people who never experienced VR to try out the technology.
It was a win-win across the board.
And this past weekend, I attended a beauty event at ABC Home where natural beauty products, elixirs and spiritual services where displayed and offered. While there, Deepak Chopra exhibited his VR meditation film that allowed viewers to experience peace and meditation through the device and content. And of course I had to try.
I realized that in both of these VR experiences three things were prominent:
1) The VR integration was through an organization or brand/persona that I cared for, respected and probably most important I trusted in.
2) The topic was something I cared about.
3) And lastly, the experience solved a real world problem for me. Charity Water solved my need to contribute to a cause and Deepak’s film showed me how to use technology to meditate.
And in both instances, it just made me feel good.
Those inside this technology, claim that the market will reach up to $150 Billion by 2020*. But if the world is gone by 2020, there will be no monetization to be had by anyone. And hence, comes my interior motive.
I am a believer of change and I do believe that VR and the content masters have a unique position to influence this change. And certainly there are organizations that already do this like Creative Visions, the organization that supports my motion book/graphic novel, in its directive to help creative activists; and FOST which has a programming embedded in its DNA called FOST for Good. And the Games for Change conference held in NY each year. The set up is there, now if only more gatekeepers could follow suit.
After all, underlying this current “reality” are millennials, women and men that are looking for ways to help the world and also heal themselves. Jane McGonigal expounds on this in her TED talk, “Gamers Can Make a Better World” and how these gamers experience epic wins in games but have no outlet in real life to experience situations where they can save the world. And this to me, is just untapped energy waiting to be utilized.
Imagine a VR meditation film set underwater with whales that allows viewers to meditate to whale and water sounds thus accomplishing both the viewers' desire to meditate while also bringing an appreciation to ocean life. Or an augmented reality app that allowed a mother and her children to follow an orangutan through a grocery store that picks out products that contain palm oil and hence ban. Or as my boyfriend Mike voiced, a VR game that allowed him to experience what it was like in Rome so that he could learn from the mistakes of that time period and hence not repeat them in this one.
Which brings me back to my original question, is it possible for these gatekeepers to actually use their power to help create a better future?
I hope so…
There is this law of energy that states that the more attention we give anything, the more that “thing” will appear in our lives. I’ll go deeper to say that it’s not only our attention but our energetic frequency that creates our reality. It is as simple as a person who identifies with being accident-prone and thus attracts a higher probability of accidents to him or her. That person just radiates that story line. But if we generate a new storyline then that person’s reality changes. And maybe it’s time we changed ours.
Wouldn’t it be nice if this new world that is being created for us by the content and technology makers use their power for good?
Wouldn’t it be incredible if somehow this new technology inspired people to change and activate this humanitarian energy?
Wouldn’t it be magnificent if somehow the collective consciousness on the planet moved away from survival mode but towards thriving, pro-earth and life generating modalities (for both animals and humans)?
Now that would be a “reality” that I would want to live in…
*Source: Terdiman, Daniel. “VR and Augmented Reality Will Soon Be Worth $150 Billion. Here Are The Major Players.” Fast Company, October 13, 2015