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Strange Beasts is yet another cautionary tale about augmented reality

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The virtual future is lonely

Tech giants are already touting virtual reality and augmented reality as the next huge frontiers for digital entertainment, and it’s provided plenty of fodder for science fiction creators — look no further than Black Mirror’s “Men Against Fire.” A new short film from London filmmaker Magali Barbé looks at how lonely this future can be.

Strange Beasts starts off as a typical tech CEO pitch introducing viewers to an augmented reality game called Strange Beasts. The CEO, Victor, explains that nanites inserted into the eye project images for the user, allowing them to create their own creatures and pets to play with. About halfway through, the video takes a turn as Victor introduces his daughter, highlighting how her imaginary creatures can interact with his own. It’s in the last couple of minutes that the film reveals its twist, and shows that his life is emptier than it seems.

This certainly isn’t the first story about AR in which the point is that the technology is terrible for the human race and society — just look at short films like 2012’s Sight, last year’s Hyper-Reality, and the aforementioned episode of Black Mirror as just a couple of examples. Strange Beasts presents a technology that is a bit more benign, but it’s definitely still a cautionary tale.