Goliath: Playing With Reality
Emmys Judging Page
Hello, Emmy judges! Welcome to the Goliath: Playing with Reality website and our Judging Page to give you more insight into the work. Below you will find:
1. A link to download Goliath: Playing with Reality onto your Meta Quest
Locate Goliath: Playing with Reality through the shop page within the Meta Quest 1 or 2 headset, install it for free and play.
It is designed as a standing experience, so make sure you have enough space in your judging room. It can be experienced in a seated position too.
The documentary is interactive. The narrator will help guide you with this – we encourage you to interact and move in your space.
2. Goliath Walkthrough Video
Don’t have a headset? Don’t worry. Click on this video to watch somebody else go through the experience. It won’t feel the same as it does in the Quest, but it will give you a clear sense of what the experience feels like.
3. Goliath Explanatory Video
Below you is a 10 minute video made just for you, to give you further insight into the making of Goliath, why we made it, what’s innovative about it and the impact of the work.
4. Goliath Essay
Finally, you will find our 750 word essay explaining why we – and some of our partners – believe Goliath: Playing with Reality is Emmy-worthy and further insight into the work.
5. Goliath Press Kit
If you would like to see images from the project and more information, you can access our Press Kit here
If you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Goliath: Playing with Reality is a 25 minute animated VR documentary about schizophrenia, gaming and connection. Echo (narrated by Tilda Swinton) guides you through the many realities of Jon (a real life gamer whose gaming name is Goliath), a man who spent years isolated in psychiatric institutions following a diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia who finds connection in online games. Combining heart-felt dialogue, mesmerising visuals and symbolic interactions, audience members weave through multiple worlds to uncover Goliath’s poignant story.
Statistically, sufferers of severe mental health conditions have a far lower life expectancy as a result of their condition, and much of that is down to loneliness. Goliath aims to overcome this stigma and build empathy by using gameplay to viscerally take people into Jon’s world to help build bridges to this isolated community and to show the importance of social online gaming in the lives of marginalised people in society. The story celebrates online communities as a place that can offer freedom, free of some of the friction of our identities and histories that mark us in the real world.
Goliath: Playing with Reality is an introduction to this world as much as it is a representation of his unusual reality. The arc of the story is told by Jon in his own words, sometimes cautious and vulnerable, sometimes full of delight. Grounded in the presence of his voice you are taken into a rich and playful world where each game you play brings you closer to his embodied experience.
As an interactive work, there are many points within the narrative when the audience member is invited to take part. Early in the doc, Tilda Swinton’s character introduces herself and then invites you to do the same via a recording facility within VR. The audience member thinks no more about this, but at a later stage you hear the recording of your own name echoed back to you at a moment when Goliath is describing his experiences of schizophrenia. A moment which parallels the moments of not trusting your own reality that Jon – and many others – have experienced.
Awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best VR Work at the 2021 Venice International Film Festival, Goliath has been featured in outlets including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times and Variety – with IndieWire stating: “By turns gripping, sad, and poignant, it’s one of the great moving image attempts to understand mental illness from the inside out.”
Goliath has resonated with audiences worldwide, with people sharing similar stories of struggling with mental health and finding comfort online. One user who has schizophrenia said, “it’s like you took the game right out of my mind” and urged others with mental illness to use it as a way to, “rediscover themselves”. A war veteran confessed he has found relief from PTSD in gaming, describing it as the “only way to connect to humanity.”
The experience has not just struck a chord with those suffering from acute mental conditions, but offers hope for future treatment by using VR documentaries like this in conjunction with counselling / teaching sessions, as a mental health counsellor who has suffered from periods of psychosis, wrote: “I’ll be sure to share this with fellow patients as I think it really does open your eyes to how life is before, during and after treatment.” We received messages from people with autism and bi-polar diagnosis who use games as a social space and to “express myself comfortably”. Something in it resonated.
Since the project launched, we have been approached by a number of universities including King’s College London and Homerton University Hospital to pilot Goliath as a teaching aid for medical professionals to improve the understanding and empathy between doctor and patient, as well as as a training tool for frontline services such as police. Studies have shown a direct link between empathy and patient improvement. People with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed in a police encounter. Creating an immersive tool to advance training experiences will have a direct impact for the community.
Reading others’ stories of how gaming has helped them battle isolation and their own minds showed us that Goliath: Playing with Reality is operating on several levels: engaging with an existing community of online gamers who struggle with mental health while also educating those new to the world in the language of gaming and illness. But Goliath is just one man’s story and one experience. The influx of responses shows the need for these kinds of documentaries and the power of VR to tell them.