Virtual Reality and the Logic of Immediacy

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’s demo, Beginning Hour, concerns the story of a protagonist waking up in a ramshackle mansion with a mission to escape. The concept of immediacy, “the belief in some necessary contact point between the medium and what it represents” (Bolter and Grusin 2000:32), is reinforced here by technological innovation (improved graphics and sound) as well as filmmaking techniques (first person subjective camera) and is vital to player immersion in the game.

Part of the narrative is a videotape recording of three documentarians meeting their end while investigating the house. The video’s first-person perspective ‘found footage’ format informs immediacy and remediates documentary and narrative cinema but, importantly, it uses the medium as a prop; a relic repackaged as ghost-house iconography.

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One can be immersed even further by utilising the game’s VR functionality:

The experience is immersive but not without rupture as one must wear a headset, however, given the content of the game this is probably a good thing. One of the participants in the clip says: “I don’t want to look” but stares at the virtual floor rather than removing the headset. This doesn’t mean that all sense of artifice was removed and she naively believed what was happening but is a good example of the ‘logic of immediacy’; we don’t believe the reality of what is in front of us but marvel at the difference between what we know to be real and what we are experiencing. In an attempt to reinforce immediacy further, Capcom has merchandised a candle that releases the scent of the decrepit mansion of the game.

This is reminiscent of ‘4D cinemas’ which aim to heighten viewer experience with technology that physically engages with the audience: “allowing you to ‘feel’ the movie’s motion, jolts, pokes, wind, water, and even scents” (https://www.showcasecinemas.com/theatres/theatre-technology/MX4D).

Tony Pomfret

Reference:

Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin (2000) Remediation, London: MIT Press

https://www.showcasecinemas.com/theatres/theatre-technology/MX4D

Videos:

IGN. (2016). How Scary is The Resident Evil 7 Kitchen Demo in PS VR? YouTube. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcLl-DZGLZ8 (Accessed 8 February 2017)

 

Numskull Designs. (2016). Resident Evil 7 VR 4D Candle Official Trailer. YouTube. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvM7vKZKi4w (Accessed 8 February 2017)

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