"Nature VR and the New Mythology" - A Critique by Willi Paul, Mythologist, Planetshifter.com
"Nature VR and the New Mythology" - A Critique by Willi Paul, Mythologist, Planetshifter.com

Prelude -

"For virtual reality will certainly become less and less distinguishable from the phenomenal real world that surrounds us. If we thought TV and mass-media culture were capable of creating a distorted worldview that was sometimes difficult to uncover and resist, we've not seen anything yet." Source: The Construction of "Nature" In The Virtual World "Second Life" By Joseph Clark (Dissertation)

'Games for Nature is a platform that promotes collaboration and research on the use of games for nature conservation purposes. We seek to bring closer the people developing and exploring these kind of games. We believe games to be a critical and powerful tool in the 21st century and that feedback between people from different disciplines can allow games to be more effective.'

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Definitions -

Nature - is the "natural environment" or wilderness: wild animals, rocks, forest, and in general things that have not been substantially altered by human intervention or which persist despite human intervention.

SpiritNature - A belief system where the Earth is held as a higher power, integrated as a protector, sacred and wild. A higher consciousness where humans are committed to saving Nature from human wrong doing. The opposite of greed, toxic technologies, resource exploitation and waste in general. (W Paul)

Nature VR - Refers to computer technologies that use software and special gear to generate "realistic" images and sounds that represent Nature and enable the user to interact with them in a game or trek. (W Paul)

New Mythology - one of four change agents integrated with permaculture, the transition movement and SpiritNature that support the creation and integration of new universal stories. New Mythology includes treating Nature as sacred, and the community creation of new symbols, archetypes, rituals, celebrations, and traditions. (W Paul)

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Getting into Nature VR -

Most people agree that we plug into VR programs to have fun - as a solo agent or in teams.

Is there "good" Nature VR content? And negative programs? Of course.

Nature VR has many roles in edu-entertainment: as background for war games ("The Last Sniper VR"); Pre-historic learnings ("Time Machine VR Gameplay"); as an eco-stage ("Avatar 3"); and "Post human collapse and extinction" scenarios ("From Dust").

Can Nature VR play a role in supporting the new mythology if Hollywood and Silicon Valley decide to relieve consumers of their steady state of gun barrel pornography, blood and guts and evil aliens and educate us about climate change, species extinction and fracking? Yes.

Can Nature VR help to pull us into the streets to protest against governmental and corporate wrong doing?

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A Nature VR Critique -

• How is Nature VR deployed by the mass media for consumption? Nature VR is often a screen saver or wall paper. A supporting set or scene. A backdrop or a prop. Or a romantic mountain vista or sun set to fly through.

• Is Nature VR all hype, with its gadgets and expensive advertisements - economically marginalized? A passing fad?

• Nature VR carries with it the absurd belief in a technology age that it will educate, employ, entertain and save us from our own extinction. "Holodecking it," like on Star Trek, is for sale any moment now.

• Nature VR is prescribed, man-made. It's not about anything new. Gear are gimmicks. Playing a war game in a goggle is not a challenging or celebratory act. Not a community event. It's just "spend-tech"; an expensive race track version like from our youth where we sat and watched the cars go around and round - until your slot car stopped cold or flew off the track, and we re-started it again.

• VR is most often a private, self-driven affair; an artificially-sourced entertainment. We blast through Nature VR in our basement caves as we lust for better guns and higher scores.

• Can Nature VR battle junkies become story makers - generators of new universal myths? The current "story" is rigged, pre-set, coded; you only react and pick track A or track D, joy stick-it and then just sit there!

• Nature VR is not a substitute for SpiritNature. Like screen wall paper, Nature VR is coded, fake, 3D, flat; unresponsive and non-communicable unless you turn on the system. SpiritNature welcomes the outside world and breathes with you. Nature VR is just stream pixels and that darn upgrade.

• It's what we produce for each other - the messages and values - that are more important than the gadgets that we need to view them.

• With or without goggles, violence and sexual content often wins the eye. Enter the new mythology - with its holistic focus on community ethics.

• Nature VR will continue to help educate some of us through online trainings, workshops and scientific exploration.

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James Cameron on VR:

"There seems to be a lot of excitement around something that, to me, is a yawn, frankly. The question that always occurred to me is, when is it going to be mature, when is it going to be accepted by the public at large, when are people going to start authoring in VR and what will that be? What will the level of interactivity with the user be other than just 'I can stand and look around.' If you want to move through a virtual reality it's called a video game, it's been around forever -."