Goliath: Playing With Reality

4-star rating
PCVR, Quest
Documentary, Education, Short Films
Moderate Comfort, Roomscale, Stationary

Goliath: Playing With Reality uses the unique immersive qualities of virtual reality to tell a true life story of someone who struggles to recognize actual reality. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for best VR immersive work at the Venice International Film Festival, this experience begins with a narrative introduction by Tilda Swinton questioning the nature of reality that includes several interactive elements.

The story features Goliath, the multiplayer gaming alter-ego of a man struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. A sequence of inventive and striking scenes surround you as Goliath describes the effects of his mental disorder, how he became institutionalized and medicated for years and about how he successfully found a way to experience normalcy and happiness, in part through computer gaming with friends. Scenes transition between animated illustrations of events, to abstract interactive symbolic sequences. Because some of the effects can be mildly disconcerting, and we'd rate this experience as PG. It also includes occasional strong language that is appropriate to the story.

Virtual reality allows for the telling of Goliath's story in a unique way and this 25 minute production achieves that in a sympathetic and impactful manner using a multitude of visual and audio effects. The story arc and duration is about right for this type of experience and the positive messages are on point. We do wonder however if it could have been even more effective combined with more of a first person point of view approach in a way that works so well in conventional cinema.

Since the main goal of this work is to provide awareness of mental illness it's unfortunate that this is a paid experience, though of course the creators have bills to pay. The interactive and immersive experience maker who created Goliath also has a second title focused on ADHD in the works.

This experience is close to identical on Meta Quest and PCVR. A menu screen including selectable chapter headings that also works as a pause function is available and obvious on the Quest version, but is only found on the PCVR version by pressing the space bar on your computer's keyboard.

✅ Important story about mental disorder with positive messages.
✅ Inventive visual and audio scenes.
❌ Paid experience reduces its awareness objectives.

• YouTube: Trailer
• Languages: Cantonese (subs), English, Mandarin (subs)
• Facebook: Comment on this article

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