It’s Super-Real

Hey, did you see Tintin?

If you did, I hope you agree that it is an awesome step in the evolution of digital cartoons. I took my kids to see it at the theatre and I sat between them to keep the peace. At a particularly energetic passage halfway through the movie, I leaned over to my daughter to my right and whispered, “what do you think?” Smiling she said, “the colors are fantastic!” I thought to myself, ‘what a great insight- my budding artist daughter saw beyond the obvious and saw the film as a work of art!’ So, a moment later, I leaned over to my son and asked the same, expecting his observation to be a bit superficial, given his younger age: “People can’t do all this flipping and flying… its not real”. “But its a cartoon…”, I interjected. “No” he quickly snapped, “its not a cartoon, or live- its better, its Super-Real…” Kids blow me away. Especially since now that I’ve heard their commentary, I realize that my sitting between them takes on a irony I wasn’t expecting: I sit between the artist and the engineer, literally and figuratively.


During the year since we saw Tintin, my son’s comment has returned to my mind often… “Its better- its Super-Real”. He’s also had another whopper that only a child can have- this one came as we were watching a football game (a father-son postcard, to be sure). Frustrated with the fits and starts of the game, he blurts out “Daaad– this game stinks, can’t we just have the Panthers beat the Falcons on Madden Xbox?!”


The lines between real, artificial, surreal and super-real are blurring before our eyes. A recent study illustrates that the emotional and physiological responses of gamers, immersed in super-real virtual environments, mirror that of responses to actual stimuli. Except you’re really not getting tackled by a 300 pounder or shot at in your living room. It’s better: its Super-Real. And tech-heads are saying that Haptic technologies, that which replicate the sense of touch to our virtual experiences, will be ready for market launch soon.


Come to think of it, I find this whole notion that “the in-store experience will always be better than the online experience” ridiculous, given my kids’ observations and the way things appear to be evolving. What if an online shopping experience was Super-Real? What if triggered emotional/physiological responses better than a customer could get from a stroll through the best bricks & mortar store ever created? That sure would up-the-ante for the world of store designers, wouldn’t it? Hmm…


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