‘Strange Beasts’ and the Pratfalls of Augmented Reality

By  · Published on March 25th, 2017

Short of the Day

How far would you go to play this game?

AR, or augmented reality, is the next big thing. As opposed to VR, virtual reality, which completely conjures environments, AR enhances your environment, adding elements instead of fabricating the entire conceit. Think Pokemon GO. What’s just percolating to the surface now will be everywhere in five years’ time, bringing with it new ways of interacting with technology and each other through technology, not all of which are going to be good. After all, if social media has demonstrated anything about society, it’s that we’re all just as comfortable interacting by a degree removed than we are in person, perhaps even more comfortable. Extrapolating off this, we’ve made “games” like The Sims, or Second Life, or No Man’s Sky that create entire universes into which people can disappear for extended periods of time.

The next logical leap from this, at least if you’re writer-director Magali Barbe, are AR applications that never leave us, artificial elements that attach to our real lives and in turn effect the way we live. This is the idea behind Strange Beasts, Barbe’s five-minute mock-infomercial for a new AR game that allows you to grow and raise your very own pet. Think of it as a Tamagotchi that interacts back with you. Pretty appealing, right? Maybe too much so, as the gut-punch end twist reveals.

Like the best near-future sci-fi – Black Mirror being the obvious go-to example – Strange Beasts understands that any perils of new technology don’t necessarily come from the technology inherently, but rather from how we as users apply it (or over-apply it) to our lives. The user, in short, is the virus.

“Ingenious” doesn’t even start to describe the story, and as Barbe’s background is in VFX, you better believe this looks as incredible as it sounds. CGI interacts with live-action seamlessly, further convincing you of the lure of this “reality.”

This is top-notch stuff, spread the good word.

Strange Beasts premiered over at Short of the Week.

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