Immersive Entertainment, a Double-Edged Sword
The immersive entertainment industry has seen significant growth over these last four years, driving a new generation of location-based entertainment (LBE) that caters to consumers wanting more participatory, interactive and social experiences, better known as the Experience Economy. According to the 2017 Eventbrite report, The Experience Movement, over 75% of Americans 18+ “prefer experiences over things”.
We are seeing an evolution in entertainment, shifting from isolated passive experiences like traditional cinema to the more immersive and interactive experiences such as Two Bit Circus or the VOID. We are for the first time seeing how technology can make us be more social in real life versus online as we are offered new reasons to get out of the house to play with friends and connect with strangers.
Immersive Entertainment can be viewed as a powerful medium to bringing people together IRL – no longer spending hours behind a screen being antisocial in social media, we are now able to truly immerse ourselves inside fantastical realms, beloved IP worlds and art (fine or mixed) in ways never-before-imagined possible, and we are able to do this with others in a real world environment. At a time when the world is a little topsy-turvy, we could certainly use real life connections, community and inspiring conversation, and do so within the safety blanket of fun entertainment experiences.
The 2019 Immersive Design Industry Annual Report, Interactive, Intimate, Experiential: The Impact of Immersive Design, estimates the Immersive Entertainment industry at $4.5B in 2018, not including the $45B+ theme park industry. One of the fastest growing sub-areas are the immersive and interactive art experiences, popping-up so to speak, in cities all over the US and the world at a crazy rapid pace. Entering the market are all shapes and sizes, from large art collectives like Meow Wolf and TeamLab, to ‘Instagram museums’ themed to food, pop-culture and art, and made popular by the success of the Museum of Ice Cream.
Though growth is what we want, the type of experience that has the audience glued to their phone the entire time, is not. We need to continue to encourage social connection and not create further isolation in a real world setting. It is important to curate and design our experiences with the mobile phone in mind, as a companion device and not the lens by which to view the entire experience. Not yet at least; let’s see what happens when players like Qualcomm, Niantic, Apple and Samsung introduce their wares to the market.
Immersion requires a good-sized field-of-view, presence, your hands and the ability to connect with others around you – when holding up a phone the whole time, we are anything but present and certainly not allowing the opportunity for connection with others. When designing a location-based experience, the phone should be looked at as a tool for storytelling that allows the audience to go deeper when needed and requires them to put it away when it is not.
It is of course important to provide people with the opportunity to capture their moment or journey through photos or videos that they can later share on social media, this also benefits the LBE as viral marketing. It is about when and where in experience we invite the use of the phone as an augmentation and additive, while still allowing for full immersion and connection. I hope to see more thought and consideration given to this as new experiences enter the market.
Leila has over 20-years of experience in Entertainment, Technology and Live Event Production, designing, building and producing integrated marketing campaigns, experiential activations, brand events, festivals and digital products for some of the world’s most notable brands. Leila’s experience in digital product development spans AR/MR/XR, OTT, mobile & web for Art, Entertainment and Video Games, and she has created and helped launch award-winning campaigns for a number of TV & Movie titles including The Walking Dead, Jurassic World and Ready Player One. Leila co-founded and launched the 20,000 sq.ft. LBE, Onedome, in San Francisco in 2018, featuring three immersive entertainment experiences (F.E.A.S.T, LMNL and The Unreal Garden); including the world’s first mass-consumer, AR multiplayer mixed reality experience.
Leila has worked with some of the world’s largest brands including Disney, Microsoft, Warner Bros, Google, DreamWorks and Adobe, and with some of the world’s most successful location-based entertainment startups including Two Bit Circus, the VOID and Electric Playhouse. Leila currently consults within the XR world under her own brand, MESH, and is an advisor to a number of XR & LBE startups including Enklu, Portals, Vibiana Immersive, Otherside and WeHOWL.
MESH is a consultancy providing strategic guidance, planning & execution of XR projects, immersive installations & interactive experiences.
At its core, MESH is a highly curated network of talent, capabilities and resources across every spectrum of the XR, immersive & interactive mediums. Matching needs and capabilities and ensuring alignment across the board, MESH carefully selects its partners to create long-standing relationships between all parties.
– MESH works with Location-Based Entertainment companies on Operations, Content Curation, XR Product Development & Marketing.
– MESH works with XR companies to drive awareness & adoption of their products.
– MESH works with Retail & Real-Estate Developers on solutions that drive traffic, increase dwell time and engage their audience.
– MESH works with Brands & Agencies on experiential activations with XR at the core.
About Blog Writer :
CEO & Founder