Here is a top 5 VR Movies i’ve seen over the years which some of you might agree with or not depending on how you view and experience virtual realities. If you know any more, post in the comments 🙂
No.5 – The Lawnmower Man
This came out when i was around 13 year old and i had only just started delving into computers at school. This was the era of what some might call ‘the first VR fad’. The story was ‘very’ loosely inspired by a Stephen King short story and tells of a scientist using virtual reality to unlock the brains ability to learn. The film is typical 90’s tomfoolery but the idea of using virtual reality to expand the mind through virtual feed-back loops is a good one and there is lots of studies about how Virtual Reality can be used to improve learning.
No.4 – The Matrix
Yeh so you can’t really have a top five VR movies without the Matrix being in here somewhere. I was at collage and just getting into Cyberpunk 2020 and this film not only changed everything to long black coats and wearing dark shade in the dark, but it also boosted the idea of virtual realities into the mainstream asking the question ‘what is reality?’.
No.3 – Existenz
A classic Cronenberg movie where game consoles are biomechanical pods and the players end up in a game within a game within a game, a confusion that was way before ‘inception’. I loved how it asked what games are and when do they stop being a game, when reality becomes so real do games stop being game?. This being a Cronenberg film its full of gorgeous oddities and the rather intimate nature of plugging yourself into virtual reality is something current VR is only just now starting to play with.
No.2 – Surrogates
A future where people use Robots called Surrogates to walk around in the dangerous world for them. The film follows a detective investigating the murder of a guy who died while plugged into a Surrogate. For some reason i loved this film. Its not really VR, its probably more Augmented Reality but the film resonated with me because of the way Surrogates mirror many aspects of having an avatar in VR. the whole film is packed full of VR ideas that if you use Second Life you will find yourself relating to this future world. I especially liked how the main character gets sensory overload & anxiety attacks when stepping out into the real world for the first time in ages.
No 1. Summerwars
Yeh this is an anime film, but its a good one. It directly looks at the VR of today (or a few years back) and projects a world where we all use Virtual World Wide Web called OZ. It follows an OZ maintenance coder who gets roped into a weekend with a friends family. Meanwhile the Virtual World of OZ gets taken over by a mischievous AI called ‘Love Machine’ that causes the whole world to come to a stand still since its so dependant on ‘the internet of things’. The film while having some great ideas about Virtual Worlds and Avatars has a great message about family, friends & community which was unexpected. Although it is funny how Phillip Rosedales ‘Love Machine’ project is the bad guy :-p
Bonus – Tron
Disneys Tron was ahead of its time in all respects. The special FX team were not considered to have artistic merit as CGI was simply typing in numbers and so were not entered for an Oscar nomination. many people just did not get this idea of a computer world. As a kid watching it, and then later seeing virtual worlds, the two seemed the same. To me Tron also introduced the idea of an avatar, although called Programmes, they took on the appearance and characteristics of their User Programmers much like how our Virtual World avatars are a collection of our own characteristics and inspirations.