Welcome to HoloVista: a surreal game that explores our relationship with technology

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Sitting in my room one morning isolated, I am immersed in a small alternative reality that lives on my phone. On the bright little screen, I’m not a writer, but a young architect preparing for the job interview of a lifetime.

Looking through my phone like a new generation viewfinder, I look at my digital environment – a nice room in New York decorated with modern furniture, with an emergency exit and a few milk crates. This is far from my current environment, where I have not worn pants or real shoes for days. On my screen, I can see a chic wardrobe of jewelry-toned outfits, including what I learn is the same purple costume I wore during my college admission interview. On social networks, I upload a photo of the jacket, which my sister, Inez, finds absurd; I promise to buy new clothes with my first paycheck. She sends me a private and pleasant message saying that I will only be a rookie of diversity – the kind of family snipe with which siblings barely get by.

In the real world, I don’t have a sister and I don’t have a costume. In the world of the telephone, my name is Carmen and I am looking for a job in an enigmatic architecture firm called Mesmer & Braid. As I move my iPhone to see more of Carmen’s virtual room, I guess every object that appears on the screen, looking around my phone to make sure it’s not actually there. Even after a lifelong science fiction diet, this simple experience makes me feel like I am cognitively split in two.

This is HoloVista, a new type of mixed reality game from the new Aconite media storytelling platform. Although partially inspired by the 2016 cultural bomb that was Pokémon Go, HoloVista has a decidedly more experimental team, led by creative Nadya Lev and Star St. Germain fixtures, and the kind of aesthetic varnish you would normally find in a high-end fashion spread. Lev is an established photographer who co-founded alt-culture magazine Coilhouse, and St. Germain is an accomplished art director, illustrator and developer with training in theater design. The duo set out to create a great development team, including game veterans Jay Treat and Scott Jon Siegel, lead artist Blake Kathryn, award-winning narrative designer Whitney “Strix” Beltran and composer of 20 ans Mariode, who is part of the music collective DESKPOP inspired by the game.

The result is nothing less than a whole new world.

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