As someone who has occasionally caught glimpses of Black Mirror when switching through TV channels, (back when that was a thing) and has heard a lot about Black Mirror from my HCD professors at Srishti Institute (Bangalore); I wasn't even surprised when it was once again a topic of discussion during a seminar conducted by Microsoft at Srishti. I finally sat down to watch it a couple of hours ago. (Later I found out that I watched S5E1 and not S1E1 :| ) Season 5, Episode 1, it started off pretty normally and slowly started to get interesting. What I like most about it, was that it showed promise. A promise for a new era of storytelling on screen. Exaggeration was certainly needed back when viewers needed that to understand the story-line, but we do really need to move on to telling subtle stories in TV shows. I l also like how they let the narrative flow as opposed to trying to fit it into a particular category (such as sitcom, action etc.) This falls into the category of promising and norm-breaking TV shows..
The series in itself is probably a warning message to all the tech giants, product designers, product owners to look into design ethics and designing for humans, not training humans like puppies (You disagree? Think of the algorithms) We all run to tech to solve our problems, but so far all we've done is opened a regressive set of Pandora boxes, housed within one another. This scenario presents for me, as a novice UX designer, looking into the field of Interaction design, this interests me strongly. So I've decided I'll write about each episode and what it covers in a series of short snippets (here on at-least XD)
In this first episode, we look at how someone who leads a married life, starts playing his favourite game in a new medium. Enter VR headset of the future, which looks like a small circular thin surface that can be stuck against the side of your forehead (we probably don't even want to get started on the possible biological repercussions of this!) The level of immersiveness here is unimaginable, you technically leave your body and enter a world of your own where the movements you intent to do, actually happen in the new world (without much change in your physical body) This provides a new feel to this age-old game for the protagonist since now it feels real-er than ever.
He has over the years, played this game with another friend of his. Its the same friend who hands him this 'VR headset' and Game DVD in the first place. As they begin to play as the always have, the hits and punches feel real-er than ever! They proceed through the fights but soon start to wonder about how much of the virtual world, they're allowed to explore. As humans, of course their mind drifts to the funny side of things. (Side barĀ  : This is common place since GTA days where people try intimate stuff... due to curiosity I suppose!) In the game, the characters begin to kiss each other.. Initially the protagonist who is married, resists this due to guilt.. but comes back the next day to play the game and finish the act they started. Soon this becomes a real thing, where in a parallel to real life they actually text each other, set up virtual character dates.. to feel that pleasure that these individuals claim to have never felt anywhere else. The storyline goes on where the protagonist stops sleeping with his wife and she raises questions.. In the end, he comes clean and she approves of this notion and they move into an 'open' marriage. A future thinking ending to a future episode.
But this raises a lot of questions for me, as a WIP interaction designer :
We're all rushing to get into VR world (Currently some of the best companies in the world are asking : how do we make it less clunky and bring about the large PCs to tiny laptop transformation)
1. But what about the repercussions? We saw them in action within a personal setting; where towards the end the characters even support each other.. What happens if that's not the term set by your partner? Or what about a corporate setting? How do you define legalities of not sharing confidential information - does it still matter when you've transformed into a character? How do you track this?
2. Would people even travel at all? If people become attached to their seats exploring - what happens to their physical health? Would people even care about their physical health, since they can choose to become any character they want and that's where they'll meet people - would people even work out?
3. Would we have humans 2.0 adapting to a different type of race.. but would we be going more towards chimpanzees or more towards sage like intellect?
4. Most importantly, having access to such speculative fiction how do we as interaction designers unite to build a better future?
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