Social Cinema & Virtual Universes

As we move beyond the screen and into space, media might expand around some key features that VR affords us – embodiment and teleportation through telepresence.  There will be multiple universes of virtual worlds, and we’ll be able to tell and share a story in real-time as we’re experiencing it.  We could shape-shift to embody characters and jump through portals together through a giant map that navigates our virtual universe.  We could conjure up screens and browsers, which would be like an AR layer within a virtual world. We could actualize our own virtual ideas in virtual reality, creating VR in VR, just as we produce strokes in Tiltbrush.  This excerpt on “Post-symbolic communication” in Virtual Reality comes to mind as a direction that we might be looking towards.

In thinking about how media or cinema in the future could be unitized, I break it down to “worlds” that make up a system of parallel virtual universes, with the “camera” being the first-person view of an avatar. Worlds are a container for all elements, including physics, objects, skybox, avatars, animated sequences, AI systems, and portals. By embodying an avatar, we can create our own experiential narratives, unique to the way we live our virtual lives.  Through portals, we can traverse space and go on “world-hopping” journeys that produce narratives. We can each summon virtual cameras that enable us to record whatever we want- everyone can potentially be the camera man and everyone else could be an actor.

The ability to record each other adds another dimension of experiential media that can be shared in VR, or exported to the real world. We can livestream our “stories”, whether candid or performative, to broadcast to a network of “followers”, just as we do on mobile social media platforms. This sharing of experiences and their ability to feedback in realtime, expands and closes the loop of experiences. Today, Twitch is a platform that allows gamers to build a community that converges around an individual gamer’s persona and experience of a game, thereby creating a “channel”.

VRChat is an available tool and platform that currently allows us to upload virtual worlds to a server, for anyone (with the proper hardware) to access and experience. I want to experiment with uploading a cluster of public worlds that are geo-spatially connected through portals within VRChat, and allow anyone to visit and interact within them.