Walking In The Company Of Virtual Ghosts

The interactive VR experience delivers a new spin on Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale.

While mince pies may have been out on supermarket shelves since September – spare a thought for those poor store clerks, it’s not truly the Holiday season until companies begin breaking out their annual adaptations of the Charles Dicken’s classic, A Christmas Carol

And sure enough, just as I’m getting ready to pick out my tree, news that Los Angeles-based experiential studio GreatCo is premiering a spooky rendition of Mr Dickens’ classic tale in virtual reality. Ding dong merrily on high!

The experience, which runs November 30th till January 6th, 2019, comes with a few twists. Chained: A Victorian Nightmare is a location-based mash-up of film, gaming, theatre and immersive technology that plunges you into a Tim Burton-esque Victorian London where – as you might have guessed – you’ll be guided by ghosts on a journey to confront visions of your own past, present, and future in the hopes of emerging a better and happier person at the end.  

The experience is a co-production of Here Be Dragons and MWM Immersive (Formerly Reality One) whose immersive division was behind Jon Favreau’s Gnomes & Goblins.

It’s a high-value production that includes a detailed Victorian-era set where only one audience member is allowed in at a time. Once fitted with a VR headset by a professional actor, the player interacts with a cast of live actors (using motion capture) and real-world objects throughout their experience. Producers hope this combination of real-world interaction will create a “spine-tingling journey of self-reflection and visual awe.”

“By combining the best of VR and immersive theater, Chained surpasses the limitations of each medium and lets the audience see, converse with, and even touch the impossible,” says Justin Denton, who created and directed the experience. “I grew up with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but in my mind’s eye I always imagined the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future as much darker and more intense than most adaptations.”

“Audiences will walk away from Chained as though they have just awoken from a dark and beautiful fever dream full of self discovery, fascination, fear, and wonder,” hopes Denton, who has a track record of producing such unusual and thought-provoking immersive pieces, having previously created the Legion experience at San Diego Comic Con 2017.

The list of impressive A-list talent involved in the project doesn’t end there. Aaron Sims, whose Hollywood credits include Transformers, Planet of the Apes, The Thing, and Stranger Things, provided art direction and software development, while Bruce Straley, co-creator and game director of The Last of Us, provided story consultation.

Ethan Stearns, producer of the Academy Award-winning VR project Carne y Arena was an Executive Producer on the project, and stresses that the experience uses immersive technology in the service of telling a compelling story rather than a gimmick.  

Chained embodies the creative drive and spirit of everyone at MWM Immersive. We empower directors and writers to use whatever mediums are necessary to create the narrative experience they want and leave audiences delighted and awed,” he says.

Tickets for the Los Angeles experience can currently be purchased for $40 on Eventbrite and there are plans for Chained to tour other cities – dates to be announced “soon.”

Image Credit: Aaron Sims Creative

About the Scout

Alice Bonasio

Alice Bonasio runs the Tech Trends blog and contributes to Ars Technica, Quartz, Newsweek, The Next Web, and others. She is also writing VRgins, a book about sex and relationships in the virtual age. She lives in the UK.

Send this to a friend