‘The Hunger Games’ VR experience is veering too close to ‘Black Mirror’ territory

10.27.16 1 month ago

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We're very much on the cusp of the technology we're witnessing in the British anthology series Black Mirror but just how far to we want to immerse ourselves? Lionsgate introduces The Hunger Games and Divergent virtual reality experiences to test us.

In Season 3, now living large on Netflix, there's an episode called “Playtest” (Alan Sepinwall has his thoughts on the season here) that deals with a guy testing out a ridiculously immersive virtual reality video game. Oh, it also happens to be horror themed.

As soon as I realized the premise I was all “Nope. Nope! Nope.” If this technology existed, and let's face it, we're not far off, I would not use it to inflict that kind of pain on myself, even if I appreciate a good horror film. The closest I've come was playing the ABE VR cinematic experience from Hammerhead earlier this year on Oculus. The short description is “ABE is a virtual recreation of the original story about a misguided robot seeking the unconditional love of humans… at whatever cost.” The longer explanation is you're strapped to a gurney while an out-of-control robot waves sharp bloody objects at you. And you can't move.

The question is, how intense do you want to get in your video games? As far as graphics go, we're still pretty far off from having something that successfully imitates real life, but that doesn't mean you can't get scared by it. I remember the abject horror I felt while trying to play through Alien: Isolation. My heart rate was up, my hands were clenched around the controller, and my entire body was stiff.

Suffice to say, I think the Hunger Games films are fantastic. Do I want to be in the center of those horrific games? No, I'm good. But some of you might. Here's what Lionsgate has to say about The Hunger Games VR:

With The Hunger Games – Virtual Reality, immerse yourself in a 360 narrative experience exploring key moments from throughout Katniss' journey, across all four films in the series. Soar through iconic environments and scenes from throughout Panem, encountering your favorite characters and witnessing the global phenomenon from within. Experience this on the Samsung Gear VR with the Milk VR application.

To be fair, this isn't anywhere near as bad as being dropped in the middle of an arena but it's still…weird. The studio has also put out two other franchise VR videos, The Divergent Series: Allegiant:

Venture into the world of The Divergent Series: Allegiant and join Tris, Four & Caleb (Shailene Woodley, Theo James, & Ansel Elgort, in lifelike 3D performance captured virtual reality), on a mission to prevent catastrophe and discover the true intentions of David and his Bureau of Genetic Welfare. Get face-to-face with the heroes of the hit film and book series in this preview of the first-of-its-kind Allegiant VR Experience!

And The Divergent Series: Insurgent: “Confront your fears. Outwit the sims. Are you the key to uncovering the truth?”

What do you make of these? Would you want something more realistic before you tried it out or are you good not jumping into dystopian societies?

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