Lucas, Rachael From Here to Eternity

Lucas, Rachael 2009. From here to eternity: what virtual worlds can teach us about creating infinite participant experiences. Lumina (Strawberry Hills, NSW) (1):161-168.

Very interesting but very utopian.

“Many screen practitioners I have come across don’t seem to recognise that there is a fundamental conceptual difference between how you construct old media and how you construct new media; that old media is about story arcs, editing to build inference and dramatic connotation and achieving narrative outcomes, whereas new media is largely about a real-time, private, momentary, disposable experience that unfolds in a virtual space.” This is way overgeneralised. The two can be combined => entarch!

“Even the so-called leaders in global, virtual world thinking, are still thinking old media. Hence the opportunity for the Australian screen industry. […] Australian screen practitioners just need to get ahead of the game and embrace progress, rather than be determined by it.”
“In a film, we measure our codes of morality and values against what is happening to a character. In a virtual world, we get the cathartic benefits without being put in the line of judgement (whether or to this is a false illusion). We are questioning our own reality.”

“[…] in our traditional way of looking at things we have to work with a timeframe, whereas someone could remain engaged in a virtual world forever.” (“That could be a young guy starting at 17 years old and ending at 42!”)
“The new era of vital word is about a conceptual exploration of emotions in more abstract ways. It is about exploration of consciousness. Your mission as a creator is to keep that fantasy going. This is based on the relationships your participants find within that world. The basic journey is of participants forming relationships and developing confidence to becoming a mentor or even a collaborative designer.
If audiences are both beneficiary and creator, the virtual world producer is the facilitator, the town planner – it’s a totally different role. You’re centre management. It’s customer service. The creative element is in setting up the next project: what its conceptual design and machinations will be. You want to get to a point with your brand where it can be licensed and sold off, to support your other brandable entities. Filmmakers will do best to think of each business as one aspect of a greater brand.
The six key principles of virtual worlds are shared space, persistence of world, immediacy, interactivity, a graphical user interface (GUI) and the encouragement of communities.The Big Brother house shares all six key principles but, again, from the point of view of the Big Brother participant. The unique experience of each contestant is their “ego journey”, as they experience self growth. But someone self-evolving in real time makes for rather uninteresting TV viewing for the rest of us, so we rely upon the edited highlights.”

“In fact, Reality TV is perhaps the closest example of an ego’s journey, although the editing, dramatic musical inferences, “highlights” packages and competitive “winner” outcomes tend to make it lean towards an audience friendly “hero’s journey”. It is still about structuring a passive, prescribed story which builds dramatic point cliff hangers to ad breaks. The Ego’s Journey in the virtual world is more private. There is no audience.” Not sure that’s true.
“There is much that can be learnt from the virtual paradigm in terms of screen content. Films don’t have to be films anymore. The notion of three acts, 90 minutes, does not keep up with the next level of internet customisation already being enacted out there in society every day.” I only partly agree. Film will continue to exist.
“If Johnny Rocku becomes enough of a presence to become a film, so be it but that shouldn’t be the starting point. This is a fundamental conceptual problem.
Filmmakers need to think of themselves as a brand first that has multiple slate of projects under that theme. Once you are established and have a core following you can branch out.

“The reason I prefer to talk about brand is that it has longevity far beyond 90 minutes. Disney, for example, does not have a beginning, middle of end. Disney will go on forever.” “A child will form relationships and an identity with Disney for as long as he or she desires it. That’s his or her journey. Until eventually he or she grows out of it. It’s not about imposing a story within that space but rather gives it enough interest to sustain participants creating their own journeys there.”
“I’m starting to think that social communication is entertainment.” Of course it is.

“There is also a need to design for different personality types: some people seek socialisation, some seek a sense of control, some want to nurture and some just want to blow things up! And the one person can go through many different phases. The whole system of designing the virtual world is about human psychology and how people relate to each other at various stages of their own evolution.”

“What does the age of ego-centricity do to character arcs?”
“In this new frontier of filmmaking, I’d like to inspire Australian screen practitioners to take a unified approach, to redraft policies together and rethink conceptually the future framework of our ideas. “Who am I?” is, after all, the oldest question on the planet.”

About the author

Woitek Konzal

Producer, Consultant, Lecturer & Researcher. I love working where technology meets media in novel ways. Once, I even won an Emmy for digital innovation doing that. Be it for a small but exciting campaign about underground electronic music collectives or for a monster project combining two movies, various 360° videos, 72 ARG-like mini puzzles, and a Unity game, all wrapped up in one cross-platform app – I have proven my ability to adapt to what is required. This passion for novel technologies has regularly allowed me to cross paths with tech startups – an industry and philosophy I am all set to engage with more. I intensely enjoy balancing out my practical work with academic research, teaching, and consulting. Also, I have a PhD in Creative Industries, a M.Sc. in Business Administration, and love to kitesurf.

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