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The synergy of video games and the real world

By Bradly Shankar

Ramona Pringle has been given many titles over her career – actress, producer, host, reporter, video artist, Ryerson professor – and now she can add “app developer” to her resume.  Currently in production by her self-owned studio is an innovative and point-of-view documentary coming to iPad called Avatar Secrets.

Following a time of personal grief – an ill mother and separation with her boyfriend – the documentary covers Pringle’s period of self-recovery and enlightenment through her experiences in the video game World of Warcraft (WoW), as well as the video game community as a whole. Learning co-operation in WoW changed her perspective on technology.

“We’re not addicted to technology, we’re addicted to each other,” said Pringle.

A great deal of research and development went into the making of the documentary by Pringle and her team at Ramona Pringle Productions. After an extensive process, the iPad was chosen for its powerful technology and clarity and ease of use. The documentary is a unique hybrid of live-action footage and animated sequences, supplemented by interviews and case studies with experts in the field of software and digital media.

In terms of function and format, the app runs akin to the playing of a movie or television, but with the added benefit of interactivity that the tablet provides. Simple and intuitive touch screen capabilities connect 10 thematically self-contained chapters to form a cohesive linear narrative chronicling Pringle’s compelling journey into the “digital rabbit hole.”  Particular segments in the documentary may be selected by the user, which will in turn open up relevant supporting footage in the form of a case study or interview with one of many key figures in digital media. Among the specialists featured in the documentary are Vint Cerf, award winning computer scientist credited as one of the founders of the internet, and Stephen Gillet, chief operating officer of global security software company Symantec.

She says that through expression in these forms of media and technology – be it through cell phones or WoW or Skype – a sense of connection and understanding towards one another can be properly established and maintained.

Pringle believes that the lessons she learned from the game can also be taught to non-gamers as well.

“We are all connected to technology because it’s such an important part of our lives,” said Pringle. “The digital media is compelling to us and understanding why that is can help explain our behaviour in the real world. It’s very much receiving that ‘light bulb moment’ of realization.”

Avatar Secrets launches exclusively on the iPad in the spring of 2014.


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