SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN SEASON 6 AND 7 OF GAME OF THRONES.
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” tells the story of a fantasy world in which kingdoms and individuals battle for dominance and power. Among the many narratives that run simultaneously in Game of Thrones is that of Bran Stark. Bran has the ability to “warg”, which allows him to occupy the mind and body of other people and animals. We’ve seen him warg into a wolf, a raven, and into his bodyguard, Hodor.
Virtual and Augmented Reality are technologies that will soon enable us to gain some of Bran Stark’s powers. We’ll be able to travel through time and visit experiences in the past. We’ll be able to feel like ravens, flying through the world and experiencing what the raven would experience. However, we’ll also potentially unleash negative consequences with our powers, as Bran has done. This piece will share the positive and negative ways that Virtual and Augmented Reality will turn us into Bran Stark from Game of Thrones.
VR will enable time travel
In season 6 of Game of Thrones, Bran travels back in time with his mentor, the Three Eyed Raven, to experience pivotal moments in his family’s history: such as Ned Stark’s battle at the Tower of Joy and seeing a young Lyanna Stark and Hodor at Winterfell. Virtual Reality apps like Unimersiv already allow us to travel through history. In addition to this, as more video and picture content is released in 360 format, we’ll be increasingly be able to revisit and re-experience moments in our own lives and the lives of others.
These adventures through history won’t be lonely experiences. As demonstrated in Bran’s various time travel scenes with the Three Eyed Raven, you’ll be able to experience moments in the past with your friends. VR is becoming increasingly social and the rise of social VR apps like Rec Room and Facebook Spaces will only add to this collaborative aspect of VR time travel. In the same way that Bran and his mentor visit specific pivotal moments in history, you and your friends will be able to revisit moments in your past to discuss and reminisce a different time in your life.
VR will enable you to fly
Despite being one of the most powerful characters on the show, Bran is paralyzed in the real world. Thus, by warging into animals and people, he is able to gain extraordinary abilities that he otherwise would not have in the real world. This includes flying across the continent by warging into the body of a raven or gaining incredible strength and speed by warging into a wolf.
Likewise, we are already able to “warg” into flying machines today. This is well documented in the burgeoning sport of Drone Racing, in which enthusiasts race their flying drones while piloting their drones with virtual reality headsets and remote controllers. The applications for this sort of remote controlled “warging” technology are vast and impactful, ranging from military to commerce to construction.
VR will breed an entirely new set of problems
The vision of harnessing Bran Stark’s powers with VR and AR technology is compelling. However, we see in season 6 that Bran is still unsure of how to effectively control his powers, which leads to disastrous consequences. Against the will of the Three Eyed Raven, Bran visits the show’s main antagonist, the Night King. This results in the Night King locating and killing the Three Eyed Raven as Bran narrowly escapes a similar fate.
Likewise, an entirely new set of problems we have never envisioned will result from the spread of VR and AR platforms. As with the rise of previous tech waves such as the dotcom boom and the rise of the smartphone, we will face completely new ethical, social, and privacy concerns. Hackers may be able to literally hack our perceived reality. What is stopping a troll from augmenting your world via your AR smart glasses to make terrifying monsters pop out around every corner? What if your AR smart glasses’ cameras are inadvertently left on while you are punching in your ATM code?
As pioneers in the burgeoning VR and AR industry, we need to accept the responsibility of building this technology in a secure, thoughtful, and ethical manner. In addition to dreaming of all the wondrous possibilities, we need to remain skeptical, critical, and cautious of what could go wrong. After all, unlike Daenerys Targaryen, we can’t solve all of our problems with fire breathing dragons.
Michael Park is the CEO and Founder of PostAR, a platform that lets you build, explore, and share augmented realities. This is a guest post not produced by the UploadVR staff. No compensation was exchanged for the creation of this content.”