Bill Viola has been working with the Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California to utilize video game technology to create something new. “The Night Journey,” offers the interactivity of video games, but without the fast-paced competition and violence that characterizes previous games. The game player’s surrogate appears alone in an unknown environment, surrounded by a fantastic landscape and without any instructions. Players are rewarded for taking their time and exploring the virtual word with patience and care. In fact, if the player moves too fast or tries to advance to the next level too quickly, the landscape smears. In addition to this change of pace, there are times when game players do not have control of the game. At these times, the game will display a dream sequence based on how a player has moved through the virtual world up to that point.
Viola is using the unlikely medium of video game technology and transforming the experience into a journey toward enlightenment. Early video game technology would not allow Viola to control the interactive and artistic elements as he has in his current project. Now, with the help of video game design specialist, he has been able to integrate imagery and selections from is vast body of work in a gaming environment that feels tree-dimensional. Though “The Night Journey” will not be finished until later this year, it was previewed at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool and other conventions where it was tested by aficionados and novices. Is seemed to receive a good response from both. Viola has not yet announced if his project will be released as a commercial video game or as a limited addition for museums to exhibit to the public.