Entertainment is swiftly joining the list of arenas where a pandemic meets innovation and innovation wins. The future of entertainment – we kind of knew – would be more interactive, more immersive and more in your head.
What COVID-19 has done is to accelerate the journey to the future.
For instance, you would think that music festivals are completely on hold and you would be wrong. According to a fascinating piece by Wunderman Thompson, part of the legendary Glastonbury Festival went ahead – online.
And then some.
Lost Horizons (part of the festival) was recreated as an online event and when you registered you designed your own avatar that could leap about, meet people, interact and generally have fun.
As the creator, Kaye Dunnings, says, “You can transcend anything through an avatar. You can create it how you want and customise it yourself. People that maybe are limited physically can walk anywhere, jump and bounce and teleport around the space.”
She has a point and she also has a point when she says that suddenly geographic boundaries are meaningless. This means that good quality virtual events have a long and happy future.
The emphasis has to be on quality though.
How bored are we of apparently interactive sessions on Zoom (other online video events are available) where the interaction does not quite work? In fact we end up staring self consciously at ourselves and wondering whether anyone would notice if we slipped off to brush our hair?
The future of entertainment does not necessarily mean 3D action, interactive headsets, avatars and virtual reality.
In the UK, Channel 4 ditched their series of art shows, where over-intelligent people with cravats in their top pockets preach about a Titian and replaced them with a rather down to earth artist. Viewers send in examples of their work and he video chats with them live, to find out more about them and their work.
It is very popular. In fact it “has energized and revitalized what the whole proposition of an arts program is,” according to the producer.
While the future of entertainment is not necessarily about technology, or at least not the leading edge of it, it is certainly about innovation and participation. And while we are beginning to realise that the future of almost everything will be in between the physical and the digital, quality will be the key.
Even the most interactive, personalised, immersive and agile form of entertainment in the universe needs a good story to succeed.
A good old fashioned book, of course.