Upon entering the world of The Great Orator, you’re surrounded by abandoned monuments of modernity – a car park, a giant event hall, a mainframe – dictated to by the omnipresent voice of the titular narrator. A spiritual guru who also appears to have political power in this strange, deserted environment, she provides participants with advice and guidance.
Eventually, the Great Orator summons you into The Great Hall. Inside, there is a mainframe in which the house of the Great Orator is pristinely preserved; it serves as a conduit to channel her “soul”.
This is a non-linear journey through an environment haunted by the voices of the Orator and her loyal followers. Those fans are entrapped by the television screens they appear on, collectively stuck in a moment of mass submission. The final moments are an intense, immersive spectacle – a spectacle nearly as intense as that of a mass movement or a spiritual experience.
The Great Orator opens up questions about individuality, the power of emotional speech, and society’s ongoing obsession with so-called “great leaders”. It is also an exploration of tricks of the mind such as the ELIZA effect, whereby people assign human characteristics to machines behaving in humanistic ways, and the Forer effect, where statements that apply to anyone can feel deeply personal and singular.
Combining game-design elements, sound art and architecture, The Great Orator demonstrates VR’s potential as a unique narrative medium.