I really enjoyed Strange Beasts by Magali Barbé. It begins like a promotional video for a new augmented reality, virtual pet game. By the end I think it makes a powerful statement about what it would be like to live in a world full of things that aren’t really there.
I can see this game existing. I remember the very first virtual pet game I ever played; Petz. First released in 1995. I would have been seven years old. So, for me, virtual pet games are pretty much as old as time. Today there are loads of virtual pet apps for smart phones. (I’m not going to lie; I’m tempted by Cthullu Virtual Pet.) So, a game like the one in Strange Beasts would probably be pretty ubiquitous in this AR future. This specific app; just one of many similar AR games available.
What troubles me about the future as portrayed in this film is the idea of putting a virtual filter over the top of the physical world; taking us further away from objective reality than we have ever been. I know that in the past I have been completely insulated from actual reality because I mostly interacted with the world through the filter of the internet.
We all acknowledge the existence of the social media bubbles we live in; through social media we just get ourselves endlessly fed back to us. Our internet experience is curated and unfortunately we let it shape our perceptions of reality all too often. Imagine how much worse that bubble effect would be if our internet experiences jumped from the screen and entered the real world. With millions of different apps to choose from we’d each be interacting with a unique world. A world catered to our individual tastes and desires. To me that sounds like hell.