The great thing about the launch of the PlayStation VR head-mounted display (HMD) is that finally one of the more accessible forms of VR has arrived, and way more of my friends have bought one for their own personal enjoyment – and this means visiting their houses to all try it out together. And, this is the thing: it isn’t all about the videogames, which is hard to believe because it is a gaming platform primarily. One of the experiences we all could partake in was watching the seemingly sweet title of Allumette.
Allumette came off as quite a cute and artsy title that deals with soft-edged issues, where a lonely girl is stranded at night on a whimsical floating island, which is what the world of all made up of. The art was something that we all loved, as well as the style of animation. The way that we all chose to view this was one person in VR while the rest watched on the television. This might sound a bit like most of us was missing out, but the interaction it sparked was something much more enjoyable than either all sitting in headsets, or all silently watching a 2D movie. There were so many layers to Allumette that we couldn’t help but point them out, almost like we were kids again.
It also revealed something much more telling about how we choose to take in VR movies. The person wearing the HMD wasn’t paying attention to the main conversation – or series of wordless actions – between the mother and daughter, but instead was looking down to the crowd of people below. It is strange how the most subtle things in a scene can take your attention away from what you should traditionally be looking at, as none of us had a problem with the change of direction.
It seems that it was rightly so that we were paying attention to down below, as when the big climactic point happened (no spoilers, don’t worry), we were actually looking towards the area where everything was going down. This came across as another realisation – it is natural to want to look for clues as to how scenes unravel, but when watching a regular 2D film that directs your viewing experience you can’t take charge of how you understand the story. VR doesn’t spoon feed you, it is a medium that is so raw and transparent when it comes to filmmaking, that cliches are lessened for a fuller experience.
As the climax hit optimal point, we were all able to look around as if to say “did you just see that?” as it could have been so easy to miss out on what had just happened with the turn of a head. But, thinking about it, it would be near impossible to miss out on that as VR brings out a new kind of instinctive type of viewing – especially with this explosive (sorry) title .