Director Steven Spielberg Thinks Virtual Reality Could Be 'Dangerous'


Acclaimed film director Steven Spielberg touches on the use of virtual reality, explaining that he feels the medium could be 'dangerous' for the future of storytelling.

It's hard to think of a more intriguing chance for change within media than the growth of virtual reality. Whether it be Facebook's $2 billion buyout of Oculus or the successful release of the Vive headset that saw Valve sell 15,000 units in 15 minutes, it seems as though both industry heads and gamers themselves are excited to see what virtual reality has in store for gaming and creative media as a whole. However, it turns out that iconic director Steven Spielberg is not entirely on board with what virtual reality could allow in the future.

Speaking with The Guardian at the Cannes Film Festival, where virtual reality films are being showcased, Spielberg gave his opinion on what the new medium could mean for the storyteller. Unfortunately, Spielberg's thoughts on the matter are not entirely glowing. "I think we’re moving into a dangerous medium with virtual reality," explained the director.

Thankfully, Spielberg went on to explain exactly what he meant by this, stating that he meant it from a storytelling perspective. "The only reason I say it is dangerous is because it gives the viewer a lot of latitude not to take direction from the storytellers, but make their own choices of where to look," said Spielberg. "I just hope it doesn’t forget the story when it starts enveloping us in a world that we can see all around us and make our own choices to look at."

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Not all directors are as cautious about virtual reality as Spielberg, however. Indeed, when Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey was included in Time's 100 most influential people, he had a somewhat surprising champion in the form of Ridley Scott. "The technology Palmer has shepherded has made it possible to experience storytelling in ways we previously could only imagine," said Scott, revealing a very different opinion on virtual reality to the Schindler's List director.

Some fears surrounding virtual reality are a lot more serious than those felt by Spielberg. United States Senator Al Franken clearly feels that there are security concerns with the Oculus Rift headset in particular, and even wrote an open letter to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe. Requesting clarification on why the Oculus Rift's privacy policy says that users’ locations, movements, and dimensions are being recorded, and that Oculus may share that information, it certainly seems as though the protection of this information worries the senator.

Regarding Spielberg's concerns, however, it's certainly understandable where his criticism comes from. The nature of filmmaking requires directors to take strict control over the focus and gaze of the viewer, not only with regards to plot but also with each and every shot, so therefore allowing virtual reality headset users more freedom to explore could potentially weaken storytelling in general. That said, it is far too early to cast judgement on the medium, and who knows - virtual reality could even open up interesting new ways to experience a story, without impacting on the use of a traditional narrative in other forms.

Source: The Guardian

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