#1130: Combing Mythical Metaphors, Environmental Design, & Volumetric Cut Scenes in “Stay Alive, My Son”

The Stay Alive, My Son VR experience is an adaptation of Pin Yathay’s memoir of his survival of the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge. Attorney turned immersive storyteller Victoria Bousis translated this book into a spatial journey that tells a broader mythical story contrasting the different symbolic phases of Yathay’s mind and heart as he searches for his son that he had to abandon. It has some light interaction mechanics to gate the linear experience, created a number of exquisite and immaculate environments, and also includes some volumetric captures that are memory flashbacks that help tell the story of how he came to decide to leave his family behind during the genocide. I had a chance to catch up with Bousis at Venice Immersive to talk about her storytelling design process, but also how the invasion of Ukraine impacted their production and Ukrainian developers working on this project.

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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. It's a podcast that's looking at the structures and forms of immersive storytelling and the future of spatial computing. You can support me on Patreon at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So continuing on my coverage from Venice Immersive 2022, today's episode is with Victoria Boussis, who did Stay Alive, My Son, which is an adaptation of a book that is covering a lot of the different horrors of the genocide from Cambodia. This piece has got a lot of really interesting innovations in terms of it's blending a lot of the cinematic dimensions of film, but there's a lot of game-like elements where you're actually locomoting through a spatial context that is this symbolic translation of the story in different dimensions. There's a lot of ways in which this piece is taking the essence and the heart of what's being talked about in the narrative and then creating a spatial world around you that is trying to represent different dimensions of that. symbolic translation and metaphor. And Victoria herself, her background is coming from being a lawyer. So I have some really fascinating discussions about the insights of what her training as an attorney is able to create an argument and how she is connecting to the jury and using metaphors and in really translating a lot of those insights into the context of the spatial medium. Also, this piece was created by a lot of Ukrainians And so the war in Ukraine has actually impacted the actual production of this piece as well And so we talked a little bit about that as well and how that relates to the content of what's being covered Here and stay alive my son So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Victoria happened on Saturday September 3rd 2022 at the Venice immersive and Venice, Italy So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:02.034] Victoria Bousis: Hi, Ken. Thank you very much for having me. My name is Victoria Boussis. I am the writer, director, art director, and producer of Stay Alive, My Son, an immersive experience that is also interactive at the Venice Film Festival this year. Awesome.

[00:02:17.537] Kent Bye: And maybe you could give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into the space.

[00:02:22.489] Victoria Bousis: My journey has been kind of an unorthodox one, let's say. It started early on. I was a prosecutor for the Attorney General's office in my 20s, and there it was really kind of supporting people and human rights, which was very important to me. and seeing the human experience and both the ugliness of it but also the beauty of the human condition. And I always just got into it for the purposes of helping humanity. I've always just kind of had that ingrained in me as from a child from my mother. And eventually that took a left-hand turn when I ended up going to New York. That's where my film producing career began. And that lasted for about 13 years. I mean, I still produce. Obviously, I produced this piece. And all of the pictures that I produced always had that strong character-driven piece, always a very strong piece that had a strong message as well about the human experience of stories like What Maisie Knew with Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Steve Coogan, that really explored divorce from the eyes of a child. Other films like Pimp with Kiki Palmer, Eddie Kotygi, and Anja Nuelis. that was the perspective of a young female pimp trying to survive in the Bronx in a very male-dominant environment. So it was always just very strong pictures like that to further explore that. And I loved film as a medium as opposed to taking a political route through my work as an attorney because I felt you can just reach more people and you can cross geographical, political, socioeconomic lines and really speak to younger generations as well through this medium. Eventually I saw this insurgence of so much content when cinema started to change a lot with the incoming of various streamers, not just Netflix but also later on Amazon and then Hulu and all the various streamers and this change from going to theater because the pandemic And a lot of the content that I saw really wasn't as impactful as it used to be, where going to the theater was an event and it was something you look forward to, and the content was more curated, let's say. It started becoming something of more quantity, and I understand, you know, why. At the same token, I also saw the change in gaming. I saw that games started becoming more narrative-driven pieces. Games like Last of Us, for instance, that left an imprint. And you saw people wanting to play these role-playing games to be closer to the character, be closer to their experience. And then simultaneously was this thing called virtual reality. And I said, is there something where I can do, where I can mix my love for the human condition and telling these human-driven stories with impact related to my earlier work as an attorney in combination with my exploration of cinema through my career and development of those kinds of stories? but also integrating the power of gaming and mechanics somehow with this idea of virtual reality to penetrate deeper into those narratives. So it's not just interactions, it's actually becoming the character and having that neuroscientific imprint, if you will, touch audiences different. So content is not just passively observed, it is actually experienced. I went to MIT in 2016. to explore the medium and also the business of emerging tech. And that's when I did my first VR experience. That was in Unity. The project was called Reveal and it was a spiritual pilgrimage to Nepal and India based on some of my experiences. And when I saw people in the headset and then, you know, remove the headset and saw their strong kind of reactions, people crying, people just sitting there still trying to actually unpack what they just experienced, I said this is the kind of reaction I wanted storytelling to have. and that was more or less hooked and then came what was that next ambitious piece that I was going to do that was going to bring me together as not only a person but also as a creative with this very diverse and intricate background and that became Stay Alive My Son.

[00:06:35.760] Kent Bye: Wow, that is quite a circuitous journey through lots of different things. And I wanted to unpack one thing that you mentioned that I think you may be the first attorney turned immersive storyteller that I've talked to. And so I'm curious to hear a little bit more about that. Because being a lawyer and attorney, it's a lot about reading the law and being really rigorous about understanding the concepts and the limits and the boundaries, but also the history of decisions and the whole evolution of ideas and interpretations. And so it's got a deep philosophical interpretive dimension, but also making arguments. So how does that translate into both the film realm, but also the spatial realm in terms of that attorney lawyer training as you apply that experience into now trying to create an argument or an experience or tell a story?

[00:07:22.534] Victoria Bousis: Yeah, wow, that's a good question. It's a hard question, too. I think the first and foremost that law taught me, and this is like in my 20s now, like we're going back a tiny bit, is know your audience. I think that was the one thing that I learned. It's very different presenting an argument in front of a judge who just wants to hear about the law. How do you use precedent in order to make an argument that leans towards the favor of your client? A jury now is your peers. It's ordinary people that have been brought there to keep some kind of sense of fairness to the process in defense or in prosecution of the defendant. In those scenarios, I find that You're not really intellectualizing things. It's not very black and white because it is about a human being that you're actually making more human and you're making them more presentable so that they see beyond just whatever the crime is or what it's civil or criminal. They're actually trying to understand the human being behind that action, to try to give some sense of justification, whether it was a nature versus nurture kind of arguments. But also as you're presenting that argument, which is also at a more basic level, as I mentioned, a less intellectual, you're creating a human being before them. but you're also trying to use metaphor and that's what I use basically a metaphor to color that circumstance so it also becomes a visual for them as well that leans into the universal truths that we all have this idea of love this idea of anger this idea of revenge you know these bigger truths and I think When you're addressing stuff related to virtual reality, especially First Day Alive, my son, it was very important for me to humanize this man first so that we didn't just jump into the action of the past or the mental prison or whatever that level of that scene was, but it was just to see him first, recognize him, experience him first, allow us to see the human as he is before we jumped into what were the pretenses that opened the door to him having to choose to abandon his son. The other element is to be as visceral and as beautiful as possible so that people can actually, instead of just mentally see this place as I would describe it to a jury, but actually see it and experience it for what it is. And this is why we took a lot of time to make sure that Those worlds were very rich and very descriptive, but also to your point about being very factual, leading into the intellectualization of things, is to be after S21. Do extensive research as to the spaces, the people, the rules, the ideology, so that we can be authentic towards the piece itself, and also authentic to the experience of this man. And then the third element that's related to this knowing your audience and the presenting of information is this idea of universal truths. I think that's what film also does very well, which I learned through my film work and through being an attorney is we all have certain truths. You know, whether it's the love of a family member, whether it's love itself, whether it's idea of revenge, this idea of atonement and the seeking of salvation. ideas of regret. I think human beings have this complexity to them and it's not very simple all the time but there is a universality to that and I wanted to really find those universal moments in each scene as related to this man, so that I can also kind of tease that out in each person that experiences Stay Alive, My Son. So that's how that helped me. The other aspects of law that really helped me, from the intellectual standpoint, from the logic, not so much the emotional and the connection to human beings seeing an argument in the courtroom, or on paper, I think is the idea of being very logical in your execution of something. I think it really allows you, they call it IRAC system, issue, rule, analysis, conclusion. It's what is that synthesis of all this information, this entire book that you have, and everything before the book and after the book. How do you synthesize that and create one kind of linear and fluid argument, if you will, a presentation of the story and these facts? And I think that not only helps me as a creative to kind of fine-tune that selection process, but also enables me as a producer to actually execute on a plan. Because you have to plan. I mean, there's so many elements to game dev that are so complex. Not to mention, obviously, the various kinds of people. Speaking to a programmer is very different from speaking to a level artist, from speaking to my sound team or my composer. So I think it's enriched my ability to execute on this project, in all fairness to the people that I reach, but also to the team that I carry as a leader of that team, but also to the subject matter at hand and the responsibility to represent it correctly.

[00:12:33.628] Kent Bye: Wow, that's really amazing to hear the translation of all those insights. No, it's really quite amazing to hear all of the different ways in which that you're taking your background and applying new insights into because I think there's a quality of this experience. I think it's different than other experiences I've seen. So it's interesting to hear the Backstory and we'll dive more into the symbolic aspects and the translation in the process But I want to first fill in one gap that I have between you said you went to MIT in 2016 and started making experience But when did you come across? VR and have your first experiences and decided that you wanted to go to MIT to do that What was the catalyst for you to go from film and get into VR? I?

[00:13:13.813] Victoria Bousis: Sure. Another good question. I started just reading a lot about VR. And earlier on, the godmother of VR helped me with a name. Nani de la Peña? Yes. Yes. I mean, incredibly amazing and profound. And when she did her various pieces about putting people inside of a prison and what that felt like, and more of a documentary kind of subject matter, And I started exploring that more. I said, wow, this is a very powerful thing because it places you in the space. And everyone knows what a three by three by three confining space is. But to actually be in it and hear the voices and remain in it is very different because then the walls start closing in on you. And you start actually beyond just visualizing being in those spaces. So work like that was very powerful for me to actually experience. And I think in general, just the medium, reading about the neuroscientific implications, the physiological changes. During that experience at MIT, I used an Empatica watch to capture galvanic skin responses, heart rate, et cetera, and to see how people's reactions did change based on the various scenes that we had with the intention of changing those emotions. And I said, wow, there's something here to unpack. And I just wanted to push the medium forward. I wanted people to become better human beings. I wanted to use all that I had in a way that spoke to the medium and to kind of concise my experience into that. And I think it just spoke to me, to be honest. I had never done it before. Didn't know game dev. I really wasn't a gamer. Yes, in my formative years, I played Pac-Man and all those things, but nothing at this level. So, yeah.

[00:14:57.532] Kent Bye: What was your first VR experience? You said that you read about it, but I imagine that you... Did you go to MIT without ever having a VR experience?

[00:15:04.394] Victoria Bousis: I think I had done Noni's experiences first, and that's what got me hooked to it, actually. I believe it was her experience first. Because I remember, the reason why I'm saying that, I'm sorry, it's been a minute, is because I remember in my MIT application, when I actually wrote my personal statement, I actually wrote inside, I wanted to create projects such as her work that drew in the emotional elements and this idea of empathy in order to drive storytelling further. I remember that very vividly in my personal statement. So it was her work that inspired me to do it.

[00:15:41.746] Kent Bye: Okay, wow. Okay, so you go back to MIT, you study there, and you come out, and then you produce a project, and then this particular experience that's here, maybe you could give a bit of a background context of being in Cambodia, how you came across this book or this story.

[00:15:57.030] Victoria Bousis: Sure. So after I was finishing MIT, I have an amazing mentor there, Sanjay Sarma. And Sanjay was always just very interested in my work and my perspective of things. And I remember saying to him, you know, I have this idea. I want to make this project that I have in mind and this book that I'd found in Cambodia into a virtual reality experience. And he said, you know, well, what do you have? I said, well, I'm thinking about this book. And he's like, OK, he's like, we'll put something on paper and let me read it and let me see what that is. And so the book itself actually is a book that I discovered when I was visiting Cambodia. Specifically, it was in a bookstore in Samri, right after I had seen Angkor Wat. And I remember I had done a cooking class because you really understand the culture more by the changes in their cuisine. And through the cuisine, you saw that, you know, they were having their typical Cambodian meals, but then there were these other elements, right? The insects and the grasshoppers and these other elements. And I said, well, wow, you know, where did this come from? Because obviously it's different from Western cuisine. And they said it was partially because of those years during the Cambodian genocide when people had to scrap for anything. And it just kind of hit me how those years even changed elements of the cuisine. And to my ignorance, I had known about the Vietnam War, I had known about the genocide, but not at the depths of what the genocide was, and not the depths of the culture itself. Cambodians are wonderful, kind, spiritual people. And when you meet them, there is a spiritual element of Buddhism which really leans into this idea of doing the best you can in this life so that you find salvation, so that in the next life you have this evolution of your soul, so to speak. And I think that that's really allowed them as a people to heal from such an atrocity and such a tragic past. And so, as I was, you know, doing the cuisine and looking at Angkor Wat Kingdom, and I'm thinking, wow, this is majestic. Just the mathematics involved and the engineering involved behind creating this wondrous temple, which used to be a Hindu temple, then became a Buddhist temple. I said, these people had this kingdom, and I was trying to reconcile all of it. And suddenly I found this book. It was a yellow covered book. And I remember it so vividly because it really stood apart in the bookstore. And I grabbed it and I said, OK, you know, I'm just gonna read this book. And I started to read it as I was flying from Cambodia to New York. And I landed and I was bawling because I think as I was flying back from unpacking all those memories, meeting the people, diving into the cuisine, learning about the cuisine, learning about their history, learning about the atrocities, going to the prisons, you know, all these things. It all came together in this one book called Stay Alive, My Son. And that book takes a very, how should I say it, a very personal perspective on everything from this perspective of this man and his family specifically. It talks a little bit about the ideology, it talks a little bit about the history of how the Qamar Rouge came into power and all those elements. but it also gives you a very, very detailed account of the family and all the things that were endured, including, you know, starvation and the excessive work, the loss of his family, the ideology of deteriorating people and moving them from labor camp to labor camp with this intention of reverting back to the Argarian state of the old Khmer Rouge, the old Khmer Kingdom. And I just found it super powerful. At the same token, at that time, there was a Syrian refugee crisis happening in Greece, and I had been in Greece since I'm Greek-American, and I remember all the refugees landing in islands such as Lesbos. and the tragic photos you saw of infants that were drowned on shorelines or inflatables without anyone on board. And I just was thinking of this man, I was thinking of these stories and these graphic photos, and I was thinking to myself, how can a parent choose between their life or their child? How can you make that choice? And you make it with this intention of survival, of freedom, of tolerance. And it just makes me emotional to think about it. And I just couldn't imagine how a parent could do that. And it happened again. And then it happened again with Ukraine. And I said to myself, you know, somewhere, somehow, this narrative has to change, this narrative of the division of families so carelessly by politicians and policies, the American immigration crisis. And then the victim is always the family. And no one pays attention to what that causes a family to do and the decisions they make and the decisions they have to live with. after that. And I said that there has to be a responsibility in policymaking. There has to be a responsibility in leadership to create mechanisms that not only trace families more effectively, but once tracing is done, that there is a reunification. Family reunification is apparently not a right. Family unity is a right. And I think people have to realize that and defend the people that they govern. In the same token, I think people now are more armed than ever because of social media, their power as a people. And I was hoping that if people would go into the headset and would actually experience this man's 45-year-long quest from the time he was a young man who made this decision to the time that he's an 80-year-old man living with the decision, that they would actually do something about it and react in a more profound way to demand change and to be compelled into action. So sorry about that. I just really care about these families that I've had this opportunity to meet and see. So sorry.

[00:22:20.486] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's all very much welcome because, you know, there's another, if you take a step outside of the story and talk about your own process, because you were collaborating with people on this project of people who were based in Ukraine. So maybe you could talk about your own journey of producing this piece. You're very much impacted by that war.

[00:22:38.262] Victoria Bousis: Sure. So the piece had a couple starts and stops. It started before when we shot this in 2019, December 2019, with our beautiful actors. And then COVID happened, so then it stopped. And it was kind of a nice welcome because, again, I didn't know anything about game dev. And it kept on being this passive experience. And I'm like, no, I want some interaction. I want meaningful interaction. So I dove in that year to discover things. And then all of a sudden, Greece became an opportunity because I was getting some funding from the Greek government. Also, the tax credit was helpful. There's a cash rebate of 40% in Greece for all games and films. And all of a sudden, it made some financial sense for me to actually execute in the way that I had always envisioned in my mind, because I just carried this responsibility of this man's story, and I just didn't want to do it halfway. I wanted to do it all the way. And I had such a strong, strong creative vision for it. And I just felt it wasn't satisfied before. So this kind of tornado of a beautiful orchestrated symphony started falling into place for me. And so I went to Greece, it was economically feasible, and I started reaching out to various people online. and some of these people were Ukrainian team members. There was a producer that had come on board, who knew game dev, who then introduced me to our lead programmer, who then introduced me to a prototype level designer, and then eventually our lead animator. So the team started coming together in the beginning of February and I was like, oh god, this is actually finally going to happen. Ready to rock and roll. I had found some people in Greece that were also level designers. I had some incredible 3D modelers that were Egyptian. Some wonderful Americans that were technical artists. So it was a beautiful collaboration of amazing team members. And just when things were ready to go, I remember I had drawn what the prison scene is going to look like on a piece of paper to guide what that prototype, the blockout, was going to be like. War breaks out. And then there's two things that are going on in your body. One is, oh my god, how does this impact the project? Because you just want this to happen so desperately. And the other part of you, you're just saying, oh my god, there's a war breaking out. Is this going to last? Is my team going to be OK? What is going to happen? There's all these unknowns and these uncertainties from a very human perspective. And I said, you know, I'm just going to wait a few weeks because I don't want to tell them what's happening here. Like, can you be part of the project or not? Because they're dealing with their country. They're dealing with like survival issues. And so I waited and two of the members couldn't continue. One had to go to East Ukraine. because Kiev was being bombed. He took it upon himself to grab his camera because he had done photography before and to really document that. And he kind of found that that was going to be his vehicle of expressing what was happening to his country. Our junior level designer, his countryside was being bombarded. So he had to leave and live basically in bomb shelters. So no computers, obviously no internet, none of these things. So that happened and our programmer continued and Greg actually continued throughout the duration of the project. He's still part of the project. And then our animator came on board a bit later on and is still with the project. And so as these things were happening, we were reliving those elements of family separation. Being in Greece, A lot of the Ukrainian people actually had migrated to Greece. So we were here and we started hosting events for Easter. In the piece, there's a thing where the little boy paints and he creates a little paper airplane in the beach scene. So we started sponsoring events, Ukrainian events, for children to paint from refugees. And we found out that there was a lot of therapy that was good for a lot of these kids to draw. A lot of the young boys had a lot of anger related to leaving their homes. Obviously their dads had to stay behind because men couldn't leave the Ukraine. Little girls were obviously more emotional about it so a lot of the paintings were actually their dads in soldier outfits and fatigues. So we have a whole collection of these pieces which we wanted to also make part of the project and we're thinking about making into those for NFTs but more for charity than what NFTs have become. We wanted to do that. So we really wanted to stay present in helping. We supported some families who had left their homes to help situate them in other homes that were safe, buying them necessities. So we lived it day in and day out. And then our lead programmer, his wife was pregnant. So when he came on board, she was pregnant, I think she was three or four months. And as things started becoming hectic, she had to keep going to the hospital to see that the baby was okay because of the bombing, because of just the stress that I think a mother feels. They were first-time parents. And that became extremely stressful because there were times where I couldn't find my team members. We would text them, and I didn't know where they were. And I still maintain, obviously, connection with the team members that were no longer part of the project, but obviously were a huge part of my life at that point. And at one point during the summer, and it was right when we had submitted to Venice, and we had to finish the project, and she went into labor early. So that became crazy because he didn't have gas to take it. He had to worry about finding gas to drive to the hospital. When he got there, and he was trying to still communicate with us, but according to hospitals, because Russians now were bombing hospitals, the sirens were going off multiple times in the evening, and they had to go three floors underground of these hospitals, carrying the newborn with his wife, who just had given birth. Some women didn't have their husbands carrying the nappies and items and the children underneath, you know, three levels underground in a parking lot and just waiting there for them to be able to be left back up. And I'm trying to find Greg, you know. It was a very stressful time. The cool thing was that we would have late night parties because Greg would go to the hospital. The baby had some small complications, but he's healthy. Our little lion, as we call him. he would come back from the hospital at 10 o'clock at night and we'd start having midnight parties for all the renegades of the project. So we would start at 10 o'clock at night, we'd work till, you know, 2, 3 in the morning and at 12 o'clock we would put like disco music on or anything to give it some fun and some levity and I think the project then started becoming the source of the source of energy, the source of empowerment because It became their piece, too, for what was happening in their country as well. Different circumstances, but in a weird way, similar effects. And when we got into Venice, everyone was super excited, now that we're here. And I've got to also say thank you to Venice. Both Liz and Michel were very understanding. They had given us a little bit of a grace period of a week because of everything going on, and they were super kind in us delivering the piece. So that became the experience with it. So, yeah, it was certainly a journey, let's say, yes.

[00:30:20.585] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, thanks for giving additional context, because as I watch the piece, it's doing a lot of things that are a lot different than I've seen with other pieces, and it's a really, really powerful piece. And it helps for me at least to understand the process by which it was being built, because I can imagine that this piece is talking about these tragedies of genocide and war, and then people that are creating it are actually living it. But I'm curious the translation process of your insights of film and storytelling and you're getting into the spatial medium of VR. You're taking this story and you decide to make it more of what I'd say is kind of a mixture of modalities because it starts off with you're walking into a house and it's very mundane in a way that you're in a recognizable reality and then eventually do a transition into an unrecognizable symbolic reality that I think is this type of environmental storytelling where you're able to Tell the story through those metaphors that you referenced before as you're making the arguments as an attorney to the people to the jury that you have to connect it through a metaphor and I feel like you did a really amazing job of taking the essence of the story and making these symbolic metaphoric translations through the environmental design that people are going through and it's, I wouldn't say it's a puzzle game, it's more of a you're immersed into an environment and you're forced to do simple interactions that make you pay attention to the world and engage with it in a way that you're interacting with it and expressing a little bit of interaction but no real agency of deciding anything because there's not much choice. But it serves the purpose of having you pay attention to this world that you've created with these environments. And so I'd love to hear a little bit more about your process of designing this journey of these different metaphoric and symbolic mythic environments that are trying to amplify the story that you're trying to tell. Sure.

[00:32:21.547] Victoria Bousis: So it was very intentional, but it was also anchored on Joseph Campbell's hero's journey. And I wanted to leverage creativity because of the Unreal game engine. And I almost kind of wanted to unleash the beast, so to speak. And I think that a lot of people that I've seen a lot of work done, especially earlier iterations of VR, is this constant want to recreate the real world in VR. And I think that there is a place for that, but I think that's also a very limited perspective on what VR is. I mean, you have this incredible medium, you have these incredible tools, and I said, you know, at the end of the day, engaging audiences to be a part of the piece and to be moved by it, I think you need to also serve a sense of entertainment. And you need to also have a sense of fun, and a sense of intrigue, and a sense of dynamicism, so that it doesn't just become this heavy, heavy piece of going through these spaces, but you're leaning into all the tools that you have. So, when I started the experience, I wanted it to be hinged in reality, you know, part of that hero's journey to the ordinary world. but I also wanted to appeal to people that haven't done a lot of VR as well, to anchor it on a place that is recognizable, it's a home of this man, and to go slow with the building also of the use of mechanics. So there was this balance of design for the sake of connectivity to this man, to his home, to saying, oh, he's done well, he's lovely. There's happiness here, but there's also something looming that we are not sure. So there's a darkness that's present and you start unpacking that narrative. But also in terms of level design, you know, We're virtually walking this experience, so I spent a lot of time, because I was the initial level designer when the whole Ukrainian war broke out, I ended up creating the prototypes, I ended up creating the initial level design, and then obviously with my wonderful concept artist, really spent a lot of time focusing on how to actually tell people based on the level of where they're supposed to go. Driving early mechanics, you know, grabbing a newspaper, handing over the newspaper, very simple things to start building on that, but also to prevent people from getting nauseous. having them start adjusting neurologically on the element of virtual walking versus teleporting, for instance. And then on Michael Kay. And this is actually a line from Quentin Tarantino. He says, you know, once you bring your audiences up, you bring them back down again. Then you take them back up again. You bring it. You always have this dynamic flow. And also George Lucas says that, you know, cinema is dynamic. And I remember these kind of ideas because I think an experience should be dynamic. And just when you've got the narrative, so it's a very slow brew, it allows you to focus on what he's saying, focus on the space, focus on the photo of the child, and then just when you're like, okay, I see what's happening, boom, you take them on a ride. And that ride then, in my mind, still anchored on reality, as I mentioned, because of the historical context and all the research we did, started becoming this kind of fantastical thing. And I wanted people to have fun. I wanted people to always be on edge, almost, like, what's going to happen next? I want to explore more. I want to see what's happening. Oh, wow, I could use a flashlight. Oh, wow, it reflects light off this. Oh, I found out more information about the ideology of the Khmer Rouge. Oh, wow, the Killing Tree, that's... It's shocking because it's so beautiful, but it represents this horrible behavior of the Khmer Rouge, you know, towards children. Then you go into the bowels of his mental prison. And it's hard, you know, there's blood, there are guns, there's bones and skulls, and all these memories that show you the deterioration of this family. And then, of course, with spatialized sound design, which was very important, is to have it be a step-by-step, where as you're walking, you're hearing your footsteps, you know, echo in these chambers. You're also hearing, you know, machine guns firing or prisoner voices happening. And I wanted you to feel the fear and the anxiety that I'm sure, you know, Pinyatay felt. you know, walking through the jungle trying to save his own life. You couldn't attract attention to yourself or else you would be killed. So I wanted to take all those things I read in the book and outside of the book and drive it more into the experience by using the spatialized sound, the very detailed graphics, the puzzle pieces, that each puzzle mechanic is leaned and hinged to an emotional connection. This idea of giving people rice, but when you're giving them rice you're actually taking something away from them, which is what they did. They tried to offer them rice to be kind, but they were actually manipulative. Every time they offered you something and you took it, you were seen as being too greedy. So I wanted to really drive in the manipulation and hopefully some of that was conveyed. And then the puzzle piece of building the wall, you were told to build the wall, build the wall, build these bridges, build these things, but you were just building for no sense of building. And in this piece, when you're building the wall, you're actually determining her fate. You're closing her in to what eventually happens, you know. you locked her into the space, which is what he locked it into his mind in order for him to continue one step forward. So everything has various symbolic levels and connections. Each key has a symbolic Buddhist element to it, which leans towards salvation or forgiveness. The last key is the paper plane, which is the idea of hope, hence he gets out. The heart itself is hardened and gnarled the way Angkor Wat is held together by these roots that have grown from these silk trees. It is kind of shadowed by grief, which is how Cambodia has been shadowed by grief, and so has this man. But there's this spiritual element of this heart that still maintains this light inside of it, and this light is this light of hope because of the love that he has for his family, which I think allows human beings to persevere and to continue. And I wanted to show that in a metaphoric place. So our heart is a temple. So what better temple than Angkor Wat Temple, which is Cambodian? Pilgrims still go there seeking their salvation. So why shouldn't we not land there and seek our salvation since this is the salvation that he's seeking? And as we're there and as we solve these puzzles and enter it, we're actually healing this heart. So it starts kind of enlivening. That's why it grabs you and pulls you towards and all these things. So hopefully that was partially conveyed during it. Maybe you have to watch it again. But these are all the things that everything was picked very, very intentionally with a lot of thought for it. And it's packed with a lot of little goodies, I think. Yeah.

[00:39:33.928] Kent Bye: Yeah, I was talking earlier with Quentin from All That Remains and talking about this dynamic of dream logic of how you have a certain amount of otherworldly being transported into this virtual realm that is able to go into different spaces that can't easily exist within the physical reality and so it provides an opportunity to cultivate a new type of language and I think that language, what I identify it as, is this kind of symbolic archetypal dimension that allows you to use spatial metaphors to be able to connect to established universal archetypes or cultural archetypes or personal archetypes. And I think the challenge of this as a medium is that there has to be in some degree a fluency of the audience to understand how to read those symbols and understand what's being communicated in this kind of dream logic. And sometimes you can be immersed into a dream and see this dream logic and you don't know exactly what the meaning of the symbols are, but it provides and evokes a certain emotion and feeling from just the spatial architecture of what you built. So not necessarily always being able to identify the words that maybe inspired the artist to create that. because there's always going to be communication loss of any type of communication. But I think that's the challenge of like pieces like this where there may be symbolic archetypal metaphors and to what degree are they able to uncoat it and have a fluency of being able to read those omens as they go through it. I could tell by the design of the space that it was highly inspired and motivated with a specific purpose. And I don't think I would have come out of the experience and been able to identify what each of those were, but it was transportive in a way that, like, I feel like in some ways you're able to close the gaps with what is happening with the voiceover. But for me, the challenge is that I'm so immersed into this visual awe and wonder of the space that then it becomes an additional level of cognitive load to try to, like, process and digest what's being said and with the meaning of what's being said and the connection between what's being said and what's being shown to me. So yeah, it does feel like the audience probably needing to see it a couple of times or watching it and listening to a conversation like this to kind of help unpack it or the process of being able to understand and develop that type of symbolic fluency.

[00:41:43.846] Victoria Bousis: Yeah, I agree. And that's the balance, right? It's giving audiences that five, six seconds to breathe the space and be like, oh, wow, this is cool. You know, go up and grab something, lift it before you get hit with, you know, a voiceover or you get hit with, oh, I need to do something, a highlighter. I need a mechanic that happens here. And at some point it's also creating the repetition so it becomes easier. That's what we had like the three cans and the three bricks. Some people are like, oh, that's a little, you know, repetitive. It has to be so that then we can give some more information because that's becoming more second nature. So it was always this like push and pull as to balancing cognitive load with the wow and the sensations of, oh my God, the space and all these things that it's invoking an audience member. But I think the other element for me that was very important is I didn't want to just say it all blatantly because the importance of experiences like this is not for just it to be this is the experience, this is where it begins, this is where it ends and then it's like cut. Okay, we go back into our lives and it just washes over us. The point for it to be so packed with things in so many dimensions for me was for us to have this kind of conversation where we unpack things more together. for your listeners to be like, okay, what did that mean that Victoria did there? For people to leave and say, wait, what was that symbol all about? And by that, it becomes also where they start looking at the book themselves, or they start wanting to read a little bit more about the history, or about Buddhism, or about, it starts inspiring that curiosity. And I think if I've inspired someone to be curious, to open up a book, read about this material, listen to your podcast, I think that's what fuels then change, because it's more people involved into the various levels. And I think if I've accomplished that, that to me is success, the kind of success that I would want.

[00:43:49.807] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's definitely a piece I want to revisit again, but I wanted to also ask one question around the structure of the piece, because there is this jumping back and forth between, as you do these different interactions, you kind of go into like these memories that go into a little bit more of a sometimes volumetric capture, sometimes it's a 2D video projected within a 3D space, but you're going and telling a story that is unfolding over time of this family and all the journey that they're going on that's kind of matching as they're going through this metaphoric symbolic space, getting different bits of the narrative. And so there was part of me that was taken out of the being immersed into that spatial context and then into another realm. And then going back and forth, I felt like a little bit of a discontinuity that in some ways broke the embodied presence of being in that specific space. I mean at the very beginning you have like a hologram that comes in that starts to be shown and so I'm wondering what was behind the decision to cut away and have this more volumetric capture or 2D capture in the context of a spatial to be able to tell this other story with the actors that are trying to tell other aspects of this story.

[00:44:54.317] Victoria Bousis: Yeah, sure. So some of that was actually a choice. So in the first one, when you meet the hologram of the boy, and it's a full Olympic cash, it's because he's in the real world. So it's like his memory coming in the real world, where we're still at his home. Now, the other memories were chosen to kind of be in this tunneled Version of things because we're in his mental prison. So he in my mind now, right? This is my interpretation of it he's packed this stuff so deep in his mind because he has to survive and by unlocking each puzzle, you're kind of going to the depths of that darkness, basically, to see this kind of bits and pieces of some part of a memory. This is why you don't see the entire world. This is why there's that kind of haze. And it's just to kind of give us a almost a small little window into that darkness before you're whipped back. Because I think that's how people's memory also works. It's very, very moments in time that you're catching. and everything else is not very clear and it's not very vivid either. So I wanted to kind of have it feel a little bit different and a little bit more tucked away than it would as if you could walk around and be a part of that environment. because of it was a mental prison. The other element was also on a technical side because everything was really, really heavy. It would be really impossible to have so many memories and to be so technically heavy the moment the world was also so heavy. So there had to be choices that had to be made in terms of can't we still accomplish this on an artistic and a creative vision standpoint that actually made sense narratively with the creative decisions, but also take into account the technical constraints that we were under in order to deliver. And so it's finding a solution that accommodates both. So this is the moment where, you know, you have to put on the other hat and say, okay, I want this, this, and that, but I can't have this and that. So what is the creative choice I have to make here to make sure also that it works narratively, but also it actually works, the experience works, and we're not dropping frame rates and making people dizzy and all those things.

[00:47:15.041] Kent Bye: Yeah, I guess a question around the story of the piece of this father who had to abandon his son and he in some ways this journey feels like he's on a quest of trying to find his son he's still trying to find his son but i don't remember a scene a visual scene that showed the actual separation or maybe there was and i don't recall or maybe it was talked about but what was the context under which the separation had happened in that moment and is that represented in the piece and yeah is so what

[00:47:41.207] Victoria Bousis: So what ends up happening, and it's okay, you can see it again, we're here. So in the first can, the puzzle, that space, that's related to the second sun, Sudath. Now in the second, in the Tetris, we call it the Tetris puzzle piece. When you put the first one, you hear whispers of the prisoners saying to you, you lied, they know. And then you see the soldier that says, unforgettable is the face of the man who fired me or something like that. Basically in the book, everyone who had an educational background, who had worked for any kind of political ministry, who was considered more Western and affluent, let's say, middle class and above, They were told to declare their education, their profession, and their affiliation, basically, and who their family members were. And Tai quickly discovered that those people that were educated, he was educated as an engineer, he was working for the Ministry of Engineering, he had won numerous mathematical prizes by the king himself, And when he saw that those people were being pushed to a second area, he realized that he had to hide his identity. And he told the family to put dirt on their clothing so that it didn't feel Western, because at that time it was the 70s in Cambodia. And he had to hide it. So in one of the camps, One of the soldiers who now was, he puts a pen in his pocket, which means that he's climbed in the ranks of the Khamarush. And these were young boys now, right? These were like 18-year-old boys who became radicalized and got the power of weapons and became, you know, these monsters. is that he recognized him in one of the camps. And he's like, aren't you Pin Yatai? And he's like, no, no. He's like, my name is Tai. He's like, no, no. He's like, you're lying to us. Your full name is Yatai. It's not Tai. He's like, well, it's short. I didn't lie to you. And that's when he knew that he would be taken to the jungle and he would be killed. So the whispers are from people in the village who are like, you better escape or else you know what's going to happen to you. You'll never come back. And then the next scene in the puzzle is when he tells Annie, his wife, that he's going to escape alone. And she's like, no, you're not. I'm coming with you. And in that moment, and Elodie Young is so brilliant in that moment, because it's three emotional beats. One is, I refuse to die like an animal. I'm not staying here. Second is, wait, but she sees Nawat, basically. She's like, what are we going to do with our son? He can't walk through the jungle because he had oedema, and he's a child, and they couldn't carry him because they were emaciated at that point. And the jungle, I think, to Thailand was 177 kilometers of a treacherous jungle with lace, with Camarouge everywhere. And then she realized in the third beat of that performance is When she realizes they've made the decision, they're going to abandon their son with this woman in the hospital, and I could unpack that in a minute, and they make the decision, and she says that the least they can do is, if they're going to abandon their son, to make sure that he's clean, that they give him to this woman, and what they could offer him is so that he's presentable to her and clean. And the next scene that we go into the other prison with the keys is the scene where he's at the river where he's bathing his son. I bathed my son for the last time. And he gives him a ring, which is his gold ring, so that he had some kind of money on him that he kept in his pocket. So they made a choice to abandon him. There was a woman in one of the Khmer Rouge hospitals that he had gone to earlier to get some medication. And this woman, when she saw Nawat, she became super excited because it reminded her of her children, especially her son. And she had lost all of her children. And it says, you know, be kind to this nice lady. She's lost all of her children. And she, because she was a scene from the story of the Camarouges, because they were very particular about their clothing, being very clean, being very proper, she received medical supplies, she received a shelter, she received clothing. So he felt if the little boy is going to have the best chance to survive, because their fate was most likely going to be death in this jungle, that it would be with this woman. And that she would take the young boy as her own. and give him all these things because she had lost her children. So that this was the best way for him to live.

[00:52:24.734] Kent Bye: Were there, I'm trying to remember in those scenes, was a child off screen and she was referring to him or was a child in the scene with them? It's off screen. Okay, that's the thing that is confusing for me as I watch these pieces because there's a lot of this full spatial context where you're sort of showing in and zoomed into characters and they're saying words and sometimes I don't always catch all the words and so like there's things that I miss in the story beats that are hard for me to follow because there's also no transcripts. I've been watching a lot of Netflix with like subtitles and I just got used to like being able to read and really make sure I catch it. And so there's things that I miss in the dialogue but then makes me feel lost in the story when there's like sun that's there but off-screen that's referred to but I don't see so that's why I don't have a memory of it because there's like I don't remember seeing it so there's a certain amount of my visual field is dominant and then like the audio is like sometimes there's story beats that are like dependent on everything that's said and if I don't hear what's said then I feel like I can kind of get lost in some of that.

[00:53:27.469] Victoria Bousis: No, no fair enough and I think for that one what we did is is we put his teddy bear in her line of sight so when she looks you see his teddy bear the little monkey so at the end when you see the monkey in the bed that's the connection to him so to speak and again it's a lot of stuff to unpack in such a big piece to your point about subtitles we want to look into that because I think it helps. It's just a question of figuring out how to do it very effectively. I would love to hear your thoughts when we're done with the interview of which ones are a really good experience to do that. I think it's important. It's important.

[00:54:03.697] Kent Bye: What was the choice to not include a child actor in that scene? To kind of have the full version of that separation? Because that seems like a key point of the father being separated from the son and we don't actually visually see it.

[00:54:15.086] Victoria Bousis: So you see him washing the boy and telling him, this is the last time we have to leave you. That you see, you definitely see that scene. It's the reverse scene. And I think it's when he tells him, he gives him the ring and tells him that, you know, we're sick. We have to leave you. The time has come that we have to leave you. So that definitely is there. In terms of Elodie Young's portrayal of Annie, when he tells her, I'm leaving, she says, I'm not staying here, and those three narrative beats, he wouldn't be in that scene. Because I don't think a parent would have that serious conversation to say, I'm leaving. They found out who I am. I'm out of here. I need to preserve my life. The boy wouldn't be in the room. So I wanted to have this scene where you're reliving that moment with you and your wife making that decision. And the next one is the scene with the father and the son at the at the river.

[00:55:08.533] Kent Bye: I think part of the other thing is that if this was depicted in a film you would see the full kind of like sequence of those but in the VR piece you're kind of like going into a memory it's sort of a sequence of different memories but you're popping in and out and so you kind of have to like in some ways take these fragments of what would normally be cut as a film but you're popping in and out of a spatial context and back and forth and so I think in that process then like the language of how to communicate all those things of like telling a a story like that. So there's things like that, that when I was watching it, that I felt like I was kind of missing, but I felt like it... I really appreciated the piece, but yeah, there's things that, like, that are a part of, like, seeing just so many experiences and just being tired or just, you know, whatever festival conditions and... When the virtual festivals were happening, it was great to be able to kind of re-watch it and, like, watch it two or three times, but you're lucky to see a piece once here.

[00:56:03.525] Victoria Bousis: But it's a lot. It's a lot. And like I said, there's a lot that you've seen. I think you've seen, what, 73 experiences in three days? I mean, that's a lot of stuff, Ken. But I am dying to have you see it again after our conversation to get your feedback, because I'd love to see if you noticed other things and had other questions. So yeah, for sure. I'm super excited about it.

[00:56:28.170] Kent Bye: Well, one of the things I want to unpack is because you have the prison that represents the mind and you said that the last scenes are this temple and it's the heart. And so maybe you could talk about this dialectic between the mind and the heart and how you were trying to, because he meets the boy in the end. And that's also a little confusing because you have this visual representation of him being reunited with his son, but he's not actually with his son. So maybe you could talk about the symbolic space of the temple of the heart versus what is happening in his mind.

[00:56:57.276] Victoria Bousis: Sure, sure. So the difference between the mind and the heart in terms of how I represent it here. So the mind for me is a tricky space, right? Our mind plays tricks on us all the time and we seem to remember certain things in certain ways. But I also feel that your mind at least for me anyway, seems to also lean on tragic moments. You know, those are very, very hard and you replay that tape over and over again, especially a decision, which is like a logical decision to abandon your son for X and Y and Z reasons. You're leaning into this kind of logical sense and you're replaying those moments over and over, not knowing if it was right, if it was wrong. And you keep going on this back and forth analysis of your behavior. Things could have been done differently. What could have been done differently? Would I have survived? So that is a very logical approach. And the reason why it's a prison is you ask, and he's asking himself these questions that will always remain unanswered. So that's that Labyrinth kind of style prison, because whichever direction you go, you're still going to find yourself in the same predicament. You made this decision, which resulted in this effect. You made this decision, which resulted in this effect. And here's that linearity to it. But the questions are endless. And that's kind of why I made it into that mental prison, because I think people share that, especially emotions like regret. I think you're constantly trying to find an answer, and there is no answer. And that becomes your mental prison, the unanswerless questions. Now, when you go into the heart and the way it's been shown in this kind of mythical tree of life, Angkor Wat kingdom, temple, is that if we were only driven with our mind, I think that road would be a bleak one, right? How do you recover from a tragic past tragic decisions and questions that you can't answer. It's dark. But the reason why I think people continue and people aspire and people have this will to survive is for other emotions, which are also lighter. I mean, there's hurt, but then there's love, right? And there's a human will to survive that pushes us forward. And in that heart, what do we survive for? Typically, we survive for those we love. That's what gives us reason to continue. And for this man, it's the only way he could reclaim anything of what he lost was to continue on. And for this feeling in his heart that he had, and he's told me this, you know, in my heart, my son is still alive. For him, that feeling, I think, propelled his actions and propelled his continual seeking for Nowat over and over again, wanting to find justice, being a witness at the United Nations tribunal hearings and seeking the prosecution of the Khmer Rouge leaders, which he did, going on and writing numerous books. Some were heavily rested on the murderous utopia, which is about the ideology. Stay Alive My Son, which is about the family story. He went around the world to discuss the Khmer Rouge and to ask the international community to come in and help Cambodia. I think all that fueled his choices and his life's purpose by this feeling in his heart that he was still alive. And so I wanted to represent that in that way, that in his heart there is this boy that's still alive and this is why he did all those things. And then it's obviously from an overarching view, in Buddhism there's this thing of detachment and attachment. and the four noble truths. You know, you have this first truth which is resting heavily on suffering. And this is why salvation lies in oneself. All good and evil have its effects on this life or the next. But by doing good deeds, making merit, that's when you live suffering ends and you live forever free. So that suffering and the effects of the Khmer Rouge would have had their effects on him and all this loss. But if he detaches from that suffering and detaches from those elements and maintains those virtues, then his son is alive, then his son is free, and he is released from suffering and the need for the attachment to hold on to a physical boy rather than understanding what that boy was for him, which was this raison d'être.

[01:01:36.324] Kent Bye: Yeah, that's beautiful and I feel like the experience of the piece, I've just heard from other people that they kind of walk out of it being really emotionally affected and I think that there's a way in which that sometimes it's like waking up for a dream and you don't even know what the dream means and sometimes when you're from your own dreams and there's a bit of unpacking that can happen and A lot of times I've been in a process of collaborative sense-making processes of the dreams and sometimes it takes a community to help understand everything. So I feel like that's part of the language that you're cultivating here. And the other thing I just wanted to note is this contrast between the mind and the heart and the differentiating aspects of finding differences with the mind and the integration process that happens with the heart with trying to find this more unity or connective that has kind of a yang and yin polarities that are working together, but Grant Maxwell has a new book called Integration and Difference, a mythical dialectic that goes through like 13 different philosophers that are talking about these different processes of the difference and the integration. It's sort of a consistent theme in philosophy over many generations. from the Hegelian dialectic and the thesis antithesis and the synthesis and to Deleuzian getting beyond the Hegelian process or the Alfred North Whitehead and his process philosophy and Isabel Stengers and Jung and the alchemical process and so there's a there's a lot of deep philosophical thought that I think these different polarities that are getting into that gets to a lot of the core of our consciousness and perception but also the contrast of the up and the down that you talked about before is like the building and releasing of the consonants and dissonant cycles that are a part of music and a part of story and a part of building and releasing tension is the core of the essence of storytelling and I feel like you're able to still create that sense of the tension of being in that prison and then the exalted opposite polarity of the integration part that happens when you're in the temple. And so just from a spatial journey, you're able to translate that hero's journey into those going into the underworld and coming into that return by creating symbolically that mythic journey into spaces that are representing those different processes of the differentiation into the integration at the end.

[01:03:48.098] Victoria Bousis: Yeah, completely. And thank you for getting that because I wanted you to feel confined. And when that door opened, I wanted you to breathe for a minute. And this is why I like even the sound design is very, very low. There's like some birds that are coming in slowly. There's this jungle. And then all of a sudden you see this mass. and these god rays that are shining on you and you just like and then you're flying and you just hear wind and then the score it's I wanted you to just breathe you know and to let it kind of wash over you as you also went into a deeper place of understanding about this duality between the mind and the heart and what just happened at this moment so yeah yeah

[01:04:36.435] Kent Bye: Well, finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality and immersive storytelling might be, and what am I able to enable?

[01:04:46.002] Victoria Bousis: I think the potential is endless. I think a big part of it is, you know, financing. You know, I think if creators were given more opportunities to finance these kinds of experiences, which take a film and allow you this opportunity to embody your favorite hero. Like, I would love to do a great piece for any of the cool Marvel characters and give them a backstory. Like, we had the character piece of Joker. Like, that was beautiful cinematic. But I wonder, like, if there are any other kind of heroes like that or ordinary heroes which is one the thing that I love is ordinary people becoming extraordinary because of a sense of adversity in their life or sense of tragedy. There's countless stories out there and books that I would love an opportunity to do to show this kind of new version and evolution of cinema where we become the main character and we actually live that journey And I think in terms of empathy and the empathy machine, you know, I always think that I think that's a limited approach. And I know Chris Milka is lovely and a pioneer in the field, but I think that's limited. I think you could have empathy in films too. Yes, this is an empathy evoking machine, if you will. But I think because of the depth of the technology and that immersion mixed with obviously interactivity and various senses. The more the senses, the more immersion kind of thing. I think you could lean into compassion, which is empathy plus action. And then I think this is when you empower people to take positive actions to impact our world for the better. I know in this piece that was a very important thing for me. We're working very closely with the International Red Cross, UNICEF, the European Council, the European Commission, in order to change this story of the narrative of family separation to one of family unity. We're going to be part of a huge conference that's happening on family migration. and refugees now in September, I think September 18th, where we're going to showcase the piece. You know, these are some of the great potentials of VR. Documentaries do a lot of this work as well, but I think it's a more personal approach to it, since you've stepped into the shoes of someone. And I think that could be a great future for VR. And I think it's going to be a split in VR. I think there's going to be a gaming version of VR, which I think is super attractive, super fun, something I'd like doing and I think there's going to be this other narrative RPG, you know, version of VR where we're role-playing and we're becoming those protagonists in cinema in a more active, first-person way.

[01:07:31.944] Kent Bye: Awesome. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader Immersive community?

[01:07:38.245] Victoria Bousis: I would just say thank you for supporting VR. Thank you for being open to the medium. Thank you also for being patient with it. It's not always perfect. We're all trying the best or our bugs or our things. But the more we get the support from the community, the more we grow not only as a community, as an industry, but also it empowers us to know that the work is received, it's appreciated, and there's this kind of mutual respect for one another, and I'm open to, you know, by all means, through Ken, or feel free to tag me on things. If you have any powerful stories that you feel you would love to see, I love hearing from the community. The community is why we do these things. If there is any other way that I can be of help or even to tell me suggestions, I'm definitely open to stuff like that, but keep supporting. I said it's good to be brave. We have one life to live from what I understand, so be brave and keep pioneering despite the noise. And I think together we are those misfits, we are those outliers, but I think together we can all change the world. And I hope I can do that, can continue doing that. And thank you very much for all the support.

[01:08:56.515] Kent Bye: So, well, Victoria, thank you so much for joining me here today and for sharing this project and your journey, which has been quite a journey to get here and all the things you had to go through. And also, just all the innovations in terms of the exquisite world building and innovations of trying to create these mythic, poetic metaphors spatially that are trying to tell this deeper story. And it's a very ambitious project. I must say a lot of innovations that impact here. And yeah, thanks for joining me and helping impact it all.

[01:09:25.854] Victoria Bousis: Thank you so much. Take care.

[01:09:27.940] Kent Bye: So that was Victoria Boussis. She's the creator of Stay Alive, My Son, which was showing there at Venice Immersive 2022. So, if you want more context for the wrap-ups, then I'd recommend checking out the episode 1121, where I talk about all the 30 pieces in competition. And in episode 1144, there's an immersive panel that I did at Venice with some other immersive critics talking about the art of reviewing immersive art and immersive entertainment. I recommend checking that out in order to dig into a little bit of my own process of what I'm trying to do with these larger series and trying to unpack and discuss the art and science of immersive storytelling with a lot of these different pieces that we're showing at Venice Immersive 2022. So that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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