• James Stranahan

The Metaverse Is Cool, But It Will Never Eliminate the Need For a Great Story

By now, you’ve probably heard of the metaverse, the technology that is poised to make the Internet a three-dimensional experience. Instead of sitting passively at your laptop, pointing and clicking to go from site to site, you’ll get to enter the Internet and enjoy the thrill of a three-dimensional experience.

It’s awesome tech, of course, and while it’s still a long way off, it stands to change everything about our society as it is developed. It makes me wonder where the film world will go as a result. Can you imagine a moviegoing experience where you no longer sit in your chair, popcorn in hand, and watch Jason chase his victims across the screen? Instead, you may actually step into the film and stand next to the victim, feeling their fear and looking around at shadows to see if a knife is about to slice at you out of nowhere. You may get to stand next to Dr. Grant in Jurassic Park and marvel as the magnificent brachiosaurus munch peacefully on leaves, oblivious to their pea-sized observers. Maybe you’ll even get to sit on a mountain banshee from Avatar and fly through the air, the wind rushing through your hair as the characters hunt for food and battle invaders.

It probably sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Then again, not so long ago, the Internet sounded bizarre to a lot of people, and look where we are today. The wonderful thing about people, I think, is our relentless determination to keep pushing forward. We’re never satisfied (which can be good or bad, let’s face it) with where we’re at. We’re always looking for bigger and better, and that means that although we’re nowhere near the technology of the metaverse, who is to say it won’t come our way sooner than we think? Wouldn’t seeing a film in this way be incredible?

I think, though, that no matter what our innovators come up with, no matter how incredible the metaverse may be, nothing will ever replace a well-told story. Let’s throw out Star Wars as an example. The original movie was made in 1977, more than thirty years ago, and when kids today watch it, they’re not blown away by the level of special effects. They were revolutionary for the time, but things have advanced. However, while kids notice that, they finish the movie cheering and don’t care that the X-wing didn’t move as smoothly through the air as it does in later films. All they care about is that Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie saved the day. The Death Star has been destroyed. They are hooked by the story, not the effects themselves.

A few months ago, a friend of mine pulled out The Goonies for his niece. If you don’t know it, it’s “old” in the eyes of pretty much every kid on the planet, as it was released in 1985. Adults roll their eyes at the title, but watch what happens when they sit down to watch a group of misfits set out to find treasure so that they can save their home. There are no special effects on the level of what you see today, yet viewers (whether they admit it or not) are hooked by the simple story.

So, the metaverse and the tech behind it will take all of us to incredible places someday, and I hope I can be a part of it. It would be exciting to make a movie that surrounds the audience instead of having such a gap between them. That said, no matter how great our technology becomes, nothing will ever be more important than making sure that the film simply tells a great story.

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