by Lucky Agung Pratama
Compared to its counterparts such as mixed reality and augmented reality, virtual reality (“VR”) offers a different experience in a way that it is capable of visualizing an entirely new environment without any interference from the surrounding environment. Even though VR is essentially an alternative visualization method, it also provides a certain degree of interaction between the user and the virtual environment. This leads to several innovative implementations such as virtual travel, historic preservation, safety training simulation, and more.
In Southeast Asia, there are several companies that primarily focus on virtual and augmented reality content-creation. There are also countries outside of Southeast Asia that develop VR content related to Southeast Asia. It should be noted that the VR industry gained traction only in the mid-2010s due to the availability of relatively affordable VR hardware. Therefore, it is still too early to judge whether this industry will continue to flourish in the future, whether in Southeast Asia or other regions.
Putting VR popularity aside, we compiled a short list of several Southeast Asia-related VR programs that people can enjoy right now.
360 Video Content
At present, there exist several types of consumer-grade hardware that offer 360 video content creation that can be viewed with or without a VR headset. It is relatively easy to find this type of content on the internet, as there are video-hosting websites that support 360 video content. An example of this content is this 360 timelapse video of Singapore on Youtube by a user named Parabole.
A museum in the Netherlands recently started an exhibition about Batavia, the capital of the VOC in the Dutch East Indies. The “Batavia 1627 VR” exhibit utilized old colonial maps as a reference to painstakingly recreate the environment. The virtual reality experience features a segment of the Ciliwung river where the VOC headquarters used to stand. To build this experience, the developer used a videogame development tool called Unreal Engine 4. The trailer for this experience can be watched here.
Promoting Local Knowledge
Southeast Asia is rich in culture, especially when it comes to the mystic. A videogame developer in Indonesia recently released a game called “Dreadeye” that revolves around summoning spiritual beings, such as ghosts. The game puts the player in the role of a shaman calling forth various entities. The motion controllers act as virtual hands that allow players to do various things related to the rituals of summoning.
The game begins with summoning a tuyul, a small infant-like being that is usually invoked to steal things. As the player progresses, the game will introduce more local ghosts such as the pocong and even scarier entities. Despite some of the ghosts and their corresponding rituals being created by the developer’s imagination, the game still offers the player a glimpse of how local shamans perform rituals.