On Friday April 20, 2018, The National Pan-Hellenic Council at the University of Kentucky hosted a cookout for the historically black fraternities and sororities on campus. The cookout was full of food, fun, and strolling. To conclude the night, the Mu Omicron chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho introduced their newest member to campus.
For this blog post, I decided to focus on the future of VR and its applications to children. As virtual reality technology becomes more prominent, we can predict that children will be getting specialized tech/software that is made specifically for them. This can assist with learning, entertainment, or behavior. For this assignment I chose to review the video “Three Pigs VR Story for kids” published on youtube by cTa VR Play. The video was published in 2016 and currently has 266,359 views.
This video takes the story of the 3 little pigs, where each pig builds a house out of a different material only to have the “big blue wolf” come and huff and puff and blow their house down, and lets the viewer navigate and watch as the story takes place. Now the first thing I noticed with this video is that you actually have no control over the viewer. No matter where you look, you still face the same direction. However, when thinking about how children use VR, I believe this is okay, as they might need less freedom and more restriction in where they can look to make the story effective. In kind of a “Dora the Explorer” fashion, the narrator asks the viewer to do certain tasks “Can you help find some straw?” and after a few seconds the camera will move over to the straw, and you get some sort of praise, “Spamtastic!”
We are introduced to each character, Spamela, Hamgelina and Baconetta, individually, and the story moves along after each pig has been foiled by the big blue wolf. We meet the big blue wolf only when each pig completes their house. The Big Blue Wolf is the character that really drives the story, because once he blows a pigs house down, we meet new characters, and the story can continue.
This story was more narrative driven than emotion, location, or experience, however I am not the target audience for this story, so a child’s answers might differ more than mine. However, we are only introduced to each character for a split second, and really do not get to know anything about them besides what materials they use to build their house. So this story just uses a classic narrative to move along.
I believe that this story was unnecessary for VR, and seeing that you are not in control of the environment/movements, I am not even sure if I consider this to be a virtual reality story. I understand that children may need assistance moving through virtual reality stories, however without them being in control of anything it is just watching a Youtube video very close to your face. I believe that there could have been option to control the environment, however, I believe the target audience for this video may be around the 2 year-old age group, so that is up for debate.
I believe that for what its worth this story is alright, it is something that you give your child to amuse them for a few minutes, and I’m sure all parents can appreciate that.
VR Story Review
The Protectors, Walk In The Rangers Shoes
“The Protectors, Walk In The Rangers Shoes” is a virtual reality story/video directed by Kathryn Bigelow and Imraan Ismail in partnership with African Parks, National Geographic Channel, Here Be Dragons and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. The film was designed and presented as a way to help raise money for African Parks and The Enough Project. I could not find any metrics on how much money these organizations have raised due to the VR, but I would say it was successful based off other metrics. Hilary Clinton made a surprise appearance at the Tribeca Film Festival during a showing of “The Protectors” and told the crowd, “I first became really focused on the horrific slaughter of elephants when I was Secretary of State. It was clear it wasn’t just a terrible crisis, it was the trafficking that was a lot of bad actors.”
“The Protectors” is a VR film created to show the intense struggles happening in Africa dealing with the senseless slaughtering of animals that are supposed to be protected from poaching. The video highlights park rangers in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are tasked with protecting elephants from poachers who kill these creatures and sell their ivory. “The Protectors” uses many storytelling techniques to accomplish its goal of informing viewers about the struggles of poaching. The VR puts you right in the action, as you are not a non-engaged bystander in the story; you are put into the shoes of a park ranger. “The Protectors” puts text on the screen that allows you to see information, while simultaneously taking the environment into account. The story does not necessarily use a beginning, middle and end narrative structure, because there was never any solution to our conflict. “The Protectors” rather drops us right into the middle of the story, and that is were we leave. “The Protectors” was experience driven, as the point of the video is to give you the experience of these park rangers, and to make the issue of poaching more real to people who will never have any real encounters with poaching/poachers
The characters in “The Protectors” help drive the story, because they let you know the true life of a park ranger tasks with protecting endangered species from poachers. They help create the feeling of being a park ranger rather just a bystander viewing the story. There were many emotional appeals used throughout “The Protectors” and one scene that sticks out is a close-up of a elephant carcass that was left by poachers. The carcass has surrounded/swarmed by flies. The camera work was done so well at this moment that you begin to think you can smell the rotting corpse, and actually feel the flies buzzing around you.
I believe this film was very appropriate for VR, because this is a situation that most people will not be put into, but is a worldwide issue that we are constantly hearing about. Being put into this environment makes the issue so much more real and without VR, I am not sure if this would be possible. I believe the only weakness of this story was the lack of community voice, we only hear from the park rangers about why stopping poachers is important, but I would have liked to hear more form people who may not work in the park, who could explain why people who aren’t park rangers should care about this issue.