Summary of storytelling project


#1

Hi Folks,

Some of you have seen me around here for the past few months, I’ve been working on a storytelling project in HiFi and have collaborated with several Alphas and Betas. I thought I would post a summary of the project we just concluded, as it may be of interest to the community. First though I want to give a huge shout out to my collaborators on this: Adrian Carlie was the first Alpha to respond to my early inquiries and this project would not have been possible without him. He built our world and all our props, wrote scripts, managed the servers, and a million other things. Another Alpha, William Brown, AKA the Captain, was also instrumental. In addition to acting the lead role (and killing it) the Captain also provided incredibly helpful technical expertise.

I’m a filmmaker who has been interested in wrestling with the fun problem of how to tell fiction stories in immersive VR. I created an experimental project which I called a story-game. Not a great title, I’m still looking for a better one. I wrote a short fiction screenplay and cast VR ready actors from across the country. This script was designed to be performed live, in real-time, to an audience of one person. Our “Guest”, to borrow a term from the HBO series Westworld, a show that influenced this project to some degree. Our “guest” was asked to role play as a minor character in the story, and the entire experience was interactive. While the narrative story unfolded, the Guest followed the action, watching the main characters and occasionally interacting with them. We kept things short and simple, but like anything in Hi Fi, it was not at all simple. In fact it was extremely challenging for all involved. We faced the normal obstacles of Hi Fi being in Beta and not working reliably. And we faced additional challenges of hosting multiple avatars in one space, learning how to rehearse and act in VR space, dealing with all the issues that an interactive story presents, etc.

We ultimately ran the live performance 3 times to 3 separate Guests. They all reported back with very positive feedback. They greatly enjoyed the experience.

I’ve written up this project as a case study and just presented the findings at a conference of popular culture in San Diego, CA. I’ll post a link to the paper at the end of this post for anyone who wants to read more about this.

I plan on resuming the experiment in late May or June, taking what we’ve all learned and refining and evolving into a 2.0 version of the story-game.

This entire endeavor is experimental and exploratory in nature. While I do work commercially as a director, this project is not based in a desire to commercialize it. I’m simply curious about the new toolset for storytelling.

As we continue, we all welcome collaborations and input from the greater Hi Fi community. I suspect that soon we will have a waiting list for people who want to be a “Guest”, so let us know and we’ll sign you up. Being the Guest a lot of fun, I have to say.

Here is a link to the paper:

http://bit.ly/2nIuOdk

-Jason


#2

Hey Jason,

Experiments like these are really exciting! I’m coming to this as a cofounder of Raktor, where we work on participatory theatre that’s at least partially in VR environments. It’s too bad I heard about your show after it happened!

Which conference were you presenting at?

Sounds like you’re getting really into immersive theatre! For other readers wanting to know about immersive theater, here’s an overview I found useful recently: https://medium.com/@brentbushnell/immersive-entertainment-primer-733729b64840#.c9rzlzmtr
These are mostly non-digital examples, and it’s pretty exciting that the world of theatre and video games are starting to remix their genres in interesting ways.

What you noted in your pdf about actors wanting to hold a script but it being difficult to take off the VR headset is pretty funny.

Trying to “prime” audience members for how much interactivity they should have is also something we struggle with. Some audience members want to be more passive, some want to be highly engaged, and some want to be heckling/trolly, and we want to ensure that we can support all of these to some degree.


#3

Hey,

Thanks for this - Raktor looks really cool and right up my alley. Where are you guys located? The conference I presented this paper at is called the ACA/PCA, it’s a big academic conference with people presenting on a very wide range of popular culture topics.

I’m in New York. Would be fun to meet up either in real life or in Hi Fi to connect and chat about common ideas/issues.

Cheers,

Jason

T: 212-991-8344
E: jasonmo@mac.com


#4

Jason,

This is incredibly cool and thank you so much for sharing your write-up and experience! I read through the entire paper, and would love to chat more about about being a guest or helping for future projects! :slight_smile:

-Liv


#5

Raktor is based variously in Toronto/San Francisco/LA at the moment. Going to email you about a private HiFi chat time.


#6

Thanks Liv, I’m starting to gear up on Round 2 and can use all the help and support I can get! I’ll be around Hi Fi this weekend, maybe we can meet at Welcome and introduce ourselves.

Jason

T: 212-991-8344
E: jasonmo@mac.com