The Raven VR

The video version of our review is at the bottom of the article.

Varsity VR has something spooky for you with The Raven VR

The Raven VR is a walk through of the classic poem the art and design is by Thomas Pasieka, Code by Eric Liga, Music by Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater and read by your ghost host, Barry Carl.

The experience is short, about as long as it would take to actually read the poem.

Which is pretty much what happens in the experience. The words to the poem appear in passages on a wall as you sit or stand in a room listening to Mr. Carl as if he is the voice inside your head creating this vision unfolding in front of you. 

The experience itself is “Family Friendly” and the art style that Pasieka creates is friendly for such a spooky setting. There is very little interaction in the experience, restricted to mostly teleporting around the room to see things better.

 There are a few moments where the room does take on the imagery from the poem but all in all no one found it scary and maybe just a bit creepy at the very most. Nothing most people  couldn’t handle. Truthfully, we’re all still rubbing our heads a bit about why it’s scary.

Sure we get the idea of the poem about loss and grief.

 Then there is the want of the narrator to believe in something after this life and the fear that there is nothing, hence the NEVERMORE from the raven over and over.

Yeah we understand the existential issues being put out but… yet again we wondered why is this poem always brought out every Halloween and trotted around as one of the totems of the holiday?

We go through all of that to say this really is a good way to get students and others talking about this poem. The imagery provided in the experience help with the visuals portrayed in the poem so you can move past most of that except for the things that aren’t real. 

That was a good point captured in the VR experience. The things that are actually real, not the visions or hallucinations the narrator dwells on, are what you see around you in that experience. This point, of only showing what is real, furthers the idea of these visions and mental hoops the narrator is building around himself to be false and merely comforts instead of harsh reality.

We did a small bit of research with our group using the original poem as well

 as the Raven VR.

We had some mixed reactions but most of us believed the imagery connected to the wording helped with understanding the poem more easily. 

Through discussion later it did appear that the VR group could recall more aspects of the poem and could more easily bring imagery and since their share

d mental image had already been solidified in VR. 

Of course we need to try more experiments with other literary subjects but the anecdotal evidence seemed to tip in favor of the VR experience. 

We talked to one of our ELA instructors, Richard Santos, after experiencing the Raven VR.

He thought the experience was a good primer for getting into imagery and subtext but the lack of interaction was one of the issues he found with it early on. 

Mr. Santos saw the merit of using it with students who would probably check out when trying to read this poem but wondered if the experience might still be too slow for some. 

He thought another mode through the experience might be more helpful. The new mode might give the person in the experience: the ability to speed up or slow down the text, highlight words for understanding, provide more interaction instead of having the room perform on its own. 

Overall Mr. Santos thought it could be useful but the setup using the Rift with Outside/In tracking might make the friction to enter difficult to use in class. This would especially be the case with a Pilot system where one student acts as the VR guide for others that are watching what the pilots doing on screen. Having people shout or even very nicely request for the pilot to move to a different place while trying to listen to the narrator would definitely lower any immersion or focus of the pilot. 

This is a solo experience that came out in 2017 and was meant to work on Mobile VR devices with a single remote and that lends to the lack of interaction. While the production value is very good and it has a fun spooky style the content is fairly niche for high school. This may make it difficult to utilize the Raven VR outside of this spooky holiday when wanting something literary to go over with the class. 

But don’t let that keep you from trying it out! It is Free on the Oculus store and anyone with a Rift or Rift S can enjoy it over this spooky holiday.

Now there is another Raven experience on the Oculus GO which is also free. It is not anything like the one on the Rift and it has even less going on than the Rift version

You pretty much are in a man’s body looking down at a book in your lap that has passages of “The Raven” on it. 

There are some things that happen in the scene like raven on the chair next to you and the eerie change of the portrait of Lenore but it lacks a lot of the production that is put into the Raven VR.

I’m not sure any of us really cared for it but we wanted you to know there are at least two versions of the Raven in a VR setting so we just wanted to put that out there as an FYI.

If you’d like to contact us with feedback about this experience or future VR Education experiences please do so through contact@varsityvr.com 

For all high school VR Esports players or anyone who wants to start playing! Check out V2GL.com for more information and upcoming scrimmages.

We use Oculus products exclusively and believe in their goal to make VR mainstream.

Synty Studios, who provide great low poly assets for any VR project and now include educational pricing for their packs as well as a free prototyping pack for students and educators. 

For more information on our show and what experiences we’ll be covering, see our experience list and check out the article versions of our show at varsityvr.com

We’ll see you next time with more from Varsity VR!

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