Virtual Reality at the Fringe

Edinburgh in August is buzzing. Think Times Square in NYC but spanning a mile long, down five main streets. Last year the Fringe featured 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 venues. (Thanks Wikipedia.) In addition to the Fringe there is, what many people would consider the real star of August in Edinburgh, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This is a performance of international military bands (not to mention bagpipers in kilts!) put on every night outside the Edinburgh Castle's front door, complete with fireworks after every show. Learn more about the Tattoo here


 

futureplay virtual reality studio

Being the introvert that I am, I'm usually a "peace and quiet" kind of girl and the city of Edinburgh provides that 11 months out of the year. I can handle 1 month of chaos but I have pretty bad anxiety when it comes to going to shows. I don't tend to go to many of the performances during the Fringe but when I heard about the FuturePlay Virtual Reality Studio, I was very intrigued. 

In a tent shaped like a dome on George Street (Assembly Rooms Venue 20), 16 virtual reality experiences are set up for people to explore. My boyfriend and I went to check it out (and damn, I wish I took pictures!). There was a small group of us so we could easily hop from one experience to another. 

I've never done VR before and after seeing that terrifying episode of Black Mirror, I didn't think highly of VR. But damn, once you put on those goggles and headphones you really feel like you're someplace else. 


vr experiences i tried:

INTERN

The first experience I tried was a game. I was put into the oval office at the White House and I had to collect evidence that would get the douchebag president fired. They give you controllers in each hand. One button picks things up, another teleports you around the office. I didn't get the teleport part at first and gingerly reached out to grab something and ended up knocking into the wall. Once I got the hang of it, it was really fun and the detail was incredible. I was picking up pieces of paper with memos written on them and I could actually hold them up and read them. Definitely a game worth playing if you go.

DEAR ANGELICA

This was a short movie with gorgeous illustrations painted by hand. I was in awe by the beauty of it and I felt like I was in space while the story moved all around me. It's worth experiencing this one, even if only for a few minutes for the artwork alone. 

ABSTRACTION

I actually met a designer at a networking event who worked on this project, so I wanted to show my support. It was another experience where you only had to sit and observe. (I feel like in VR, you aren't watching, you're observing. Like an innocent bystander.) I was floating upwards in the middle of the ocean while giant people danced all around me. It made me a bit dizzy but it was beautiful. It gave me the sensation of flying. 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This VR allows you to experience what it's like during the first stages of neural development. Basically, you're a baby sitting on the ground watching your parents and a cute dog do things around you. It was cool because it was live action but not the most exciting of the VR experiences. 

LOST

This is a cute story of a robot hand looking for its owner. I loved it. When the robot arrives, you feel like you're right there in the forest. 

Ones to try that I didn't get a chance to:

MUNDURUKU: THE FIGHT TO DEFEND THE HEART OF THE AMAZON

This is a 20 minute experience that, given the time you're allowed in the studio, only a few people can experience. It's a multisensory experience in the Amazon where you'll feel and smell things throughout, blurring the line between reality and fiction. 

CURSEBREAKERS

This is a game you can play with others. I wish I had time to do it!


 There are a ton of other events going on at FuturePlay and I highly recommend you check them all out. More info on FuturePlay here