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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A voyeuristic experimental game takes a turn for the creepy

A voyeuristic experimental game takes a turn for the creepy

There’s nothing more voyeuristic than watching over a girl’s bedroom. It feels wrong. Perverted even, in a lot of ways. A girl’s room is her sanctuary. Her safe place. Her “no parents or strangers allowed” haven. In The Act of Observation, a Google Cardboard experiment, you inhabit that forbidden space, and in a twist, witness a ghastly occurrence.

a ghastly occurrence

Created by game designer Rachel Moeller, The Act of Observation is an experiment in voyeurism within a virtual space. “I chose a young woman’s bedroom because of the ‘classic’ voyeurism scenario of the peeping tom,” writes Moeller in a postmortem for the project. “As a player stuck sitting on the edge of her bed, you see her most private actions through the animations.”

The game, playable on the Google Cardboard, is guided by your effortless gaze. Your sight triggers animations in the gamelike a vinyl record flying across the roomwith no external gamepad required. As you sit idly on the young girl’s bed, overhearing panicked voicemails from a bandmate (it’s perceived that you’re in a band of sorts via your room’s decor), the alleged ghost haunting your space grows more and more antsy.

The room is not what it seems.
The room is not what it seems.

The idea for the game spurred after playing a horror game in virtual reality; the experience shaking Moeller to her core, according to the game’s postmortem. With VR, Moeller saw the potential in being within a space yourself, rather than seeing through another character’s eyes as with other games. “There is no blaming Mario when you fail to do something,” writes Moeller of the “power” that comes with being in VR. “It is your fault, always.”

You can watch a playthrough of The Act of Observation below, and check out Moeller’s website to see more of her work.

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