Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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In Forest Friends, you can actually talk to your woodland pals

In Forest Friends, you can actually talk to your woodland pals

I remember the first time a neighbor moved away in my Animal Crossing town like it was yesterday. They packed up and shipped themselves away, leaving me one last note. And that was that. I felt terrible. What could I, a lone villager, have done to stop this? Should I have kept the town more weed-free? Should I have visited them more? Was my silence for days at a time that deafening? In a new virtual reality project from a trio of independent developers, animal town companionship is being remedied to be more personal; to hopefully assuage situations like what befell my ill-fated Animal Crossing town.

making friends is what matters most

“What if, instead of pressing buttons we actually spoke with characters,” poses a question in the game’s trailer. “Would that affect how we treated those characters?” In Forest Friends, you’re just another creature in a world of cartoonish critters. Instead of directing your choices through the tap of a button, you literally speak a sentence aloud. Forest Friends leans more into being a choose-your-own-adventure than a life management simulator like Animal Crossing, but the similarity between the two still stands: making friends is what matters most. Or in Forest Friends‘ case, even enemies, if you so choose.

Creature friends never looked so cute.
Creature friends never looked so cute.

Developed by Emma Mercado, Jacob Davis, and Michael Bruner, Forest Friends attempts to forge personal relationships between the player and their animal acquaintances, similar to the recently released interactive short film Gary the Gull. Players can treat their animal buds with kindness, or the opposite. They can hug them, or push them to the ground in anger. Forest Friends wants you to question your typical antics in games, and by speaking it aloud, have you pause to think twice before you act. Or don’t.

You can download Forest Friends for free on itch.io.

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