The American Dream, both the upcoming VR experience from developer Samurai Punk and the idea from which it takes its name, is a sort of virtual reality. It is not exactly lifelike—stuck in an uncanny valley, if you will—and everyone goes along with the illusion in the hopes that it will one day be more lifelike. That approach, whether it is applied to technology journalism or a nation’s political life, is rarely advisable.
guns become the only way of getting things done
That, however, is the least of The American Dream’s political observations. Rather, Samurai Punk is concerned with one of America’s original sins: a rampant gun culture given dubious-yet-seemingly-ironclad legal protections at every turn. The American Dream takes the form of a 1950s-style propaganda (or is that advertising?) video made by gun manufacturers:
In The American Dream, guns are the solution to everything. You experience this (alternate) reality in disembodied form. Judging by the trailer, you can’t see your hands or arms or torso: there are simply guns where your trigger fingers would normally be rendered. In the absence of other appendages, guns become the only way of getting things done. Want to choose your answer on a multiple-choice quiz? Just shoot it! It’s obvious! This approach to life seems natural in the alternate universe of The American Dream, but Samurai Punk’s more scathing point is that it is also natural when Americans have appendages and don’t need to use guns. In that respect, they are still living in a version of this satirical gun ad.
Virtual reality has considerable promise for satire. This form of humor works best in a universe that is akin to ours but also slightly off. That, incidentally, is a decent description of VR’s current aesthetic limitations. Insufficient screen resolutions and the uncanny valley aren’t really problems for satirists so much as opportunity. The American Dream won’t come out until 2017 (in a meta sense, it is always in the offing) but the potential for more projects to take retro aesthetics and skewer them is already there, and that’s something worth dreaming of.
You can find out more about The American Dream on its website.