Published on March 13th, 2012 | by Gavin Jones0
Will Marvel Augment your Reality?
Augmented reality (AR), it sounds very cool, very cyberpunk but what does it really mean and is it better than virtual reality or even actual reality? I’ll admit I am confused, I’m a Generation X’er and all I know is that reality bites. In those opening sentences I was able to say a lot without really saying anything at all, and that’s how I feel about Marvel’s Augmented Reality app announced at SXSW Interactive Festival this last weekend. Marvel have unveiled something that could be truly wondrous with endless possibilities by showing us nothing at all really.Sure, this video is cool, who doesn’t want Iron Man flying out of their comic book cover but where is the value? Where is the real payoff?
As a fan and collector of comic books there is one thing I hold in the highest regard over anything else, storytelling, both in writing and art and storytelling has always been the key to any comic books success. So when Marvel announced the AR app, that was my first thought, how can this be used to add storytelling elements to a comic book? My imagination exploded with ideas of viral comic book stories within stories, augmented reality clues scattered through comics like breadcrumbs leading to a gingerbread house of ideas, it was like a Grant Morrison wank fantasy. But no, instead we get ‘behind the scenes of your favorite comics, see new footage, hear from creators, get caught up on past events and more!’
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for some behind the scenes footage and what are essentially dvd extras for comic books but I can’t help but feel a huge potential opportunity is being missed here. Marvel have a real chance to do something very different, something groundbreaking by incorporating their augmented reality with the reality of their own comics. The storytelling potential of this new technology is huge and I’m sure it won’t be long before Marvel work this out, I guess I’m just impatient and I want it all now.
You may notice I haven’t mentioned Marvel’s other REevolution announcement, Infinite Comics, which does seem to add elements to the art and how the story is told. I’m interested but I’m not excited. It seems to me that these Infinite comics are more like a bridge between comics and animation, a better bridge than motion comics at least. I’ll hold any judgement until I see what they can do but I can’t help but feel this is just gloss on something that looks good enough already, maybe I’m a purist but I like to read my comics in my way, at my own pace and sometimes, just sometimes, if I’m really in the mood, with my own sound effects.