Developing a god complex never felt so good.
Ever wonder what it may feel like to play god? To exhibit total control over an environment and its inhabitants using a series of god-like abilities? What kind of omnipotent being would you be? Kind and nurturing, or cruel and unforgiving?
Available now via Steam and Oculus Rift/Rift S for $2.99, Agence, an interactive VR film developed by Transitional Forms and the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada, offers you the chance to answer these questions for yourself, granting you complete and total control over an adorable race of AI-powered creatures, “Agents,” scattered across a series of tiny planetoids.
As the supreme being to these three-legged Pikmin-like critters, you’re free to either guide and support or meddle and obstruct their tiny existence. Break up fights between Agents or stir up trouble. Stop them from running off the edge of the planet or sit back and watch as they tumble into oblivion. Plant magical glowing flowers that dramatically alter Agents’ attitudes and enjoy the ensuing chaos; the choice is yours.
Some of these Agents have received training by human engineers using reinforcement training. As such, they’ll react to more realistically to your interactions based on your past behavior. They can even learn from your actions. According to Pietro Gagliano, creator of Agence and Transition Forms, the “dynamic film” is as much a social experiment as it is entertainment.
“I think the core artistic vision of this is to cause people to question humans’ role in artificial intelligence, both in its creation and interaction right now,” said Gagliano. “These are virtually living creatures that are learning. They’re learning from us and we’re teaching them. This is a moment that I hope that we look back on in time as, you know, we made the right choices. And we decided to empathize with these creatures that didn’t ask to be born.”
The official Steam listing states that each of the Agents is capable of expressing “fear, curiosity, boredom, or excitement using vocalizations and facial reactions.” Even the remorseless sociopath would have difficulty tossing these cuties into the abyss.
Image Credit: NFB / ONF