No video is an island

No video is an island

posted in: webVR | 0

HyperlinkSpace has a new node and it’s part video, part game, now with controller support! Before we get into the grit of analysis and the branching potential of mixing the media of video with that of modeled environments, go look at the thing>> 6_Escape (or the main page if you need a tutorial). That way the rest of this won’t be spoilers. Here’s a pretty gif to entice you.


Excellent. Welcome back.

We need better words than “video game” for a place made of 3D models that you do stuff in, so I am going to steal a word from Vi and Nicky’s Parable of the Polygons and call this a “playable place.” This place has two primary components. That tiled platform tufted with peeled grass? Let’s call it the table. Like this? Off table, Vi and I read from paper scripts performing voiceover for a pair of models hovering around acting out the play on table. Off table. On table. Okay? Okay. Now that we have our few definitions, lets walk the edges of what the heck this type of mixed media thing could become.


The arrow of online education, for example, has been toward presenting the learner with the teacher and the toy, side by side. Online ed still lacks the ability to learn with our hands, by playing with the materials of the lesson. So why not set up experiments on table, with guided lessons off table. Hands-on physics and chemistry labs come to mind, but also theatre history, teaching Shakespeare in situ at a reproduced Globe. Educational simulation on table, and an engaging face-to-face teacher off table. Add in a simple behavior tree, and off table teachers could respond to actions taken on table.

But for me at least, this effort in putting you there, bringing users minds and bodies together in a world rich with things for them to play with, is more than just giving web video the confit of continuous reciprocal causation: that simple you do a thing, I do a thing dynamics we love about face to face interactions and video game characters. It’s more than liberating video from embedded players and siloed platforms. For me, it makes video new and strange again.

Let me explain. A few weeks ago I watched a talk titled Inventing on Principle given by Bret Victor, a fellow researcher here at the Communications Design Group. In it Bret describes the principle around which he centers his design work: closing the distance between creator and creation; and asked others to consider what their own principle might be. Inspired by the call, I wanted to solidify a principle of my own that was simple clear and direct. So here goes.  *The grand red velvet curtains sweep open as trumpets ring out*

Make chimeras

Two little words (and an obligatory picture of a gato). Make work that is neither one thing nor another but instead staple together bits of debris from lots of neighboring categories together until weird liminal creatures emerge. HyperlinkSpace’s newest node, 6_Escape, is one of those chimeras. In science we have a principle called convergence which when boiled down means that “evidence from independent, unrelated sources can “converge” to strong conclusions.” I simply claim that convergence applies to cultural forms as well. From proper old school mixed media works that brought together paint and ink and collage all on one canvas, through the remixed quilt of audio samples that is hip hop, to the fledgling genre of playable places: the best stuff, the weirdest stuff is always in between.