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Experience Design and Virtual Reality Combine to Create Immersive Performances

Virtual Reality is an extremely popular form of technology in the field of entertainment. At present, video games are the only mode of the entertainment industry that VR has managed to pierce. However, all that is about to change with CU Boulder’s revolutionary free production named ‘Virtue of Reality’.

The first University of Colorado Boulder’s Experience Design MFA cohort, the cast and crew underwent extensive training to prepare for their roles in the free-production. Part of their Experience Design or XD curriculum, the free-production will present a new way of perceiving reality.

The students performing the same underwent training at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, where a collection of different and wacky art collections provide a look into futuristic designs. The site houses sculptures, pictures, photography, architecture, video production and cross-reality (a mixture of AR, VR and MR). Meow Wolf’s art is enticing due to its alien and surprising nature, which in turn, became an inspiration to draw from for the cohort.

‘Virtue of Reality’ – an inexplicable experience

Running between September 20 and September 22, the free-production will take place in the gymnasium of CU Boulder’s campus. Those visiting the play can notice the resemblance to Meow Wolf’s design. Audience members are encouraged to interact directly with the actors and the design elements. Doing so will allow them to enjoy and appreciate this new form of art.

Lyndie Raymond, one of the actors involved in the production, feels that this kind of immersive art experience is something that audiences will love. She says people will fall in love with the environment and want to explore all that it has to offer.

Audience members will be escorted inside the room with as stakeholders in a fictional company, named VeraRev. A small virtual reality experience through their headsets will introduce them to the experience. Although attendees will start in a dark and grim space resembling a haunted house, Raymond claims that it will not be a frightening experience. In fact, actors in the free-production will be placed in various settings along the way.

Each actor plays characters with set backstories. However, due to the interactive and immersive nature, actors would need to improvise during certain situations. Each character has cycles or loops that they inhabit within the play, where they must act according to the situations. Raymon claims that this makes the play both fun and challenging for the actors.

How VR helps build alternate realities

‘Virtue of Reality’ exposes the potential of VR in helping create immersive worlds for people to enjoy. Rather than sitting on a seat and watching actors play a part, now you too are part of the action. Audience members can shape the story in a real-world setting, similar to how choices work in some video games today.

Raymond is part of the first batch of students, who will go on to graduate in CU Boulder’s Experience Design. With it, she hopes to curate and build new experiences at theme parks. Her classmates too will become well-suited to create similar experiences in zoos, museums, aquariums and more.

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