20 Immersive Experiences for 2020

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After a year that has defied all expectations, it’s no surprise that we’re ready for some 2020 hindsight. Looking back, at least we have some illusion of control. It’s been so tempting to want to do “normal” things in “normal” ways, but there’s been nothing normal about this year. And in a way, trying to do “normal” things in an abnormal year would be like… ice skating on lava. So here’s what we discovered, rather than falling flat and getting burned, try something new. In a year when you can’t go out, go in;

IMMERSE YOURSELF.

Instead of seeking out Dolby stereo at the movie theatre, experience surround-sound in an immersive audio experience. Instead of hanging out with friends, be a character’s imaginary friend. Instead of going to a play, be in one in VR. Whether you have a VR headset, a laptop, or just a smartphone, you can absolutely find immersive experiences to transport you.

“Where?” you ask.

At TheLook.Club, one of the few gems 2020 has provided: a searchable database of immersive narrative experiences. Search by genre (i.e., comedy, drama), platform (i.e., Oculus, Netflix, Zoom), type (i.e., flat-screen, in-headset, location-based), or even a piece’s immersive point of view. For example, if you know you want to be a character and affect the story, you can search for that (“embodied 1PPN 1PPV participant”). And if you don’t want to have to do anything or for anyone to know you’re there, you can search for that, too (“disembodied 3PPN 1PPV non-entity”).

But, our holiday gift to you, so you don’t have to search too hard, is 20 for 2020: twenty immersive experiences of various kinds that became accessible to us this year. We’ll be releasing a short video review of each experience on the list — one a day — between now and New Year’s Eve. So follow TheLookClub on Instagram, subscribe on YouTube, or just keep this post handy. Because sometimes, you just need to remind yourself that not everything new, unexpected, and highly contagious is bad.

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The Under Presents: The Tempest
The brainchild of Tender Claws, this in-headset immersive theatre piece is like nothing else. You’re a part of a performance of The Tempest in VR, but you can’t speak. You can, however, perform and interact with people. Combining Shakespeare and Virtual Reality — two rather esoteric interest areas — could either be really intimidating or oddly inviting. So, which is it? Check out The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for The Under Presents: The Tempest on 12/12.

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Double
You won’t need 20/20 vision for this immersive experience: it’s all audio! And you won’t need a VR headset either, just a mobile device and headphones. With those and your ears, you’re ready to be transported by this slightly creepy 20-minute sci-fi sound adventure. To learn more about this experience, created by Darkfield Radio, listen to The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for Double on 12/13.

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The Great Gatsby
This legit IRL immersive theatre show is performed in London and recently reopened! You’re asked to come attired in ’20s regalia — 1920s, that is! — and have the pleasure of visiting the speakeasy between acts. You can roam from room to room and are, at times, engaged by the performers. To learn more and help you decide whether to book that trip across the pond,

Drink in The Look Club’s review posted to the Look Club Page for The Great Gatsby on 12/14.

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Space Explorers
Feeling trapped and like you’ve needed to adapt? You’re not the only one. In this live-action VR experience, you’ll hang out with astronauts on the international space station while they’re adapting to life in space. This 30-minute episode was directed and created by the experienced 360 filmmaking team known for their superior cameras, Félix Lajeunesse & Paul Raphael. Space Explorers is the first of a multi-part series; to learn how to launch in, float on over to The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for Space Explorers on 12/15.

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Kimmy vs. The Reverend
You know how it sucks to be in lockdown for 9 months? Well, Kimmy Schmidt was underground for 15 years. And in this Emmy-nominated Netflix interactive special, you and she finally have agency to do something: save others from the same fate. To learn more about how to watch and what you can expect, take in The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for Kimmy vs. The Reverend on 12/16.

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The Messy Truth
Hang out with Brie Larson in this four-part 360 video series about sexual harassment in the workplace. Created by Van Jones and directed by Elijah Allan-Blitz, this experience starts with Brie giving you a performance review and then, well, you’ll see… Find out if this experience caters to your taste by enjoying The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for The Messy Truth on 12/17.

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Like Real People Do: Long Distance Relationships Division
Now that you’re not going out as much, have you been revisiting your memories more? There could be consequences… That’s what this personalized interactive show explores. Wait, did you say personalized? Yes, I did. It’s a one-on-some experience: a couple of actors perform just for you over one whole week, on Zoom and email. To apply for your “job” at the Department of Manhattan Memory, start by checking out the listing — and The Look Club’s review — posted to the Look Club Page for Like Real People Do: Long Distance Relationships Division on 12/18.

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Wolves in the Walls
Not hanging out with your real friends these days? Well, follow Lucy’s lead and get an imaginary one. That’s what you’ll be — an imaginary friend — when you venture into Pete Billington’s Emmy-award winning VR piece based on the Neil Gaiman book of the same name. To learn more about this piece, where to watch it, and how to interact with Lucy — live! — using artificial intelligence and Instagram, see The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for Wolves in the Walls on 12/19.

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Saving Wonderland
Ever heard the song “Who the f***k is Alice?” Well, this show answers it: you are! That’s right, in this interactive webinar by Seize the Show, you’re headed back to Wonderland — which is now in trouble — to save it. Of course, you’re not alone; you’ve got the White Rabbit, many of your other favorite Carroll characters, and an audience full of other Alices — or also Alices; in a way, you’re all working as one. To find out how and what it takes to join, drink in The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for Saving Wonderland on 12/20.

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Lutaw
If you want to escape your apartment, Lutaw uses VR to take you to an animated island paradise; no swimsuit needed. Created by Samantha Quick and Michaela Ternasky-Holland, this Oculus for Good project was done in partnership with Little Yellow Boat of Hope, which provides water taxis to take children to school in the Philippines. To hear more and find out where to watch it — for free — dive into The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for Lutaw on 12/21.

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Joe Joenliness
Imagine if your spirit guide were Bruce Springsteen… but then he’s not available, and you get Joe Jonas. That’s the premise of Sioban O’Loughlin’s interactive “musical” experience. If you’ve been hankering for a celebrity impersonator to guide you through the tough times of COVID, you’ll want to head to TheLook.Club for show details and The Look Club’s review posted to the Look Club Page for Joe Joenliness on 12/22.

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Gloomy Eyes
Taking place in a world in which the sun has given up on humans, this animated piece created by Fernando Maldonado and George Tereso is the story of a fight for love. And it turns out that it doesn’t matter what world you’re in — real or virtual, human or zombie — Colin Ferrell still makes a darned good romantic lead. Learn where you can check out this magical story and what The Look Club thought of it by ogling The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for Gloomy Eyes on 12/23.

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Telephone
Remember when you had to actually dial someone’s phone number to call them? Remember when phones were plugged into walls? Remember when you had to talk to an actual operator to place a call? What, did I go too far back? Well, that’s okay because Coney’s Tassos Stevens can give you that experience — all while regaling you with tales of telecommunications — in this interactive Zoom storytelling experience. For all the 4–1–1, dial into The Look Club’s review posted to the Look Club Page for Telephone on 12/24.

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The Line
If you don’t get a train set this Christmas, you can just jump into The Line and be in one. This playful VR piece, with its unique animated style, invites the viewer into a vintage childhood game. Interestingly, the viewer-participant has agency in the game, but not in the story itself. Find out where you can explore Ricardo Laganaro’s Emmy-winning experience and whether you’re on board to try it by checking out The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for The Line on 12/25.

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Lifetime Achievement
With the headache — and possible fatality — of travel this holiday season, you’re probably thinking a lot about how to make your mother happy and whether you really have to be present to do so. This in-headset 360 animated story about Albert, a French designer, explores both these questions! So if you’re looking for a little escape from your own holiday drama, head over to The Look Club to find out how to slip into Albert’s momma drama and get some relief. You can check “watching The Look Club’s review of Lifetime Achievement” off your to-do list beginning 12/26.

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The Book of Distance
Get ready to go on a journey: Yonezo Okita’s journey of immigration, evacuation to an internment camp, and rebuilding. This in-headset interactive narrative lets you travel alongside Yonezo during key moments of his life, as recreated in VR by his grandson and artist Randall Okita. You’ll feel like you’re a part of the Okita family. To learn how to experience this fascinating story, provided free by the National Film Board of Canada, travel to the Look Club Page for The Book of Distance for The Look Club’s review, posted on 12/27.

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The BizNest
Ever wish you could go live in a sitcom for a while? Now you can! After winning Best Project for Television at the world’s largest technology conference, The BizNest — the first-ever VR sitcom — is available in-headset. Written and directed by Eve Weston, known for The Funky Hat Dance on Wizards of Waverly Place, this workplace comedy casts you as a member of a fun, fictional co-working space and gives you a hankering for pupusas. To find out how to get your day pass, visit the Look Club Page for The BizNest, where you can also watch a member review posted on 12/28.

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The Sleepover
You may not be able to cozy up in a sleeping bag on the floor next to your friends these days, but thanks to The Sleepover, you can do it with socially-distanced strangers! Also, did we mention you’ll be time-traveling together? This interactive-Zoom show, the brainchild of Janson Lalich, is a sleepover in the 1990s at Mikey’s house, and you’re one of the middle-schoolers invited. Once your parents go out for the night, you can secretly check out The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for The Sleepover on 12/29.

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The Key
In a year where we’re sick of being at home, it’s worth taking some time to think about the people who can’t go home, maybe not ever. This dreamy VR piece about the refugee experience started as a live immersive experience with a headset component and, this year migrated to a fully in-headset experience. Unlock The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for The Key on 12/30.

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Timeline
Once upon a time, if you wanted to time travel, you had to go back to the future, but in this interactive digital series, you can just app to the future. High-schooler Dee’s phone gets psychic powers, and you determine what she does about it by choosing how she feels and acts, all from your local web browser. But can you help her figure out why her BFF Marti is giving her the cold shoulder???? To find out more and see what the future holds, stream The Look Club’s review, posted to the Look Club Page for Timeline, on 12/31.

Written by

Eve Weston and Jessica Kantor created The Look Club to discusses immersive media through their site www.thelook.club and reviews of immersive stories.

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