Falling in love, an experience so tirelessly written about in movies, TV, and books, is now getting the virtual reality treatment. Meet Fall in Love, a new virtual reality "experience" that promises to remind you what an emotional connection feels like as it uses your voice (and heart) to foster a surprisingly realistic conversation.
Fall in Love's premise is fairly simple: ask the actor you see on your headset a set of 36 questions. The game then uses natural language processing to understand what question you're asking and respond appropriately. So, if you try and ask a different question or stray from the topic, the actor in the game won't answer you. To start with, you can choose to begin your conversation with one of the following actors: Ramon Rodriguez, Logan Huffman, Wole Park, Grace Van Dien, or model Maya Donavan. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to ask questions, hear the responses, and see if they make you feel any different.
The game is the brainchild of Kevin Cornish, the director of Fall in Love and of more than 20 other virtual reality projects. Fall in Love is inspired by the infamous New York Times story "The 36 Questions That Lead to Love" and the study "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness" by Arthur Aron. To Cornish, however, the mission of the experience is to bring "conversational cinema" to the forefront of virtual reality. In Cornish's view, virtual reality is special because of the intimate space it puts you in. With Fall in Love VR, the intimacy grows even stronger because you're using your voice and talking to an actor instead of a CGI simulation. It mimics what a real conversation with another person is actually like — a natural experience that we often cast aside as we text and type our way through life.
With "conversational cinema," Cornish hopes to remind people of that contact. "Today, we communicate as a culture by scrunching our shoulders and pounding our thumbs into a screen," Cornish said in a statement. "Our bodies were not designed for this and the type of connection that's made via text conversations is not the same type of connection that has bonded cultures for the last hundred thousand years. We as humans were designed to make eye contact with other humans and communicate with our voice. With Fall in Love, we are doing this."
Cornish's vision and project has definitely struck a nerve as it was shortlisted for a 2017 Cannes Innovation Lion award. Starting Sept. 19, the game will be available to download for free on Oculus Rift now and later next week on Samsung Gear VR. If you don't own either device but are wondering what it's like, take a look ahead at a widget that simulates the experience. Instead of using your voice, you'll tap the questions you want Ramon Rodriguez to answer. While the the demo gives you a pretty limited experience of the VR game, we tried talking to Rodriguez and found it was a surprisingly intimate interaction. Have fun falling in love. . . or not.