For his latest adventure, Wreck-It Ralph needs something special…YOU. Alongside Vanellope von Schweetz, you and your friends can join these best friendos and go inside the internet in Ralph Breaks VR, the new hyper-reality experience brought to you by ILMxLAB, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and The VOID.
Essential to mapping out your journey across the virtual landscape were Pamela Ribon, writer of Ralph Breaks VR and co-writer of Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Shereif Fattouh, producer at ILMxLAB. We recently spoke with them about creating this hyper-reality experience, ideating the story, and the sheer fun of breaking VR.
Pamela Ribon, Writer
Coming from a traditional screenwriting background, how did you find writing for an immersive, interactive experience for the first time?
I actually come from a theatre background, so this was an incredible, exciting way to merge these two worlds – having to be mindful of the entirety of the performance space while crafting a forward-driving narrative. The audience does not watch this show; the audience lives it, experiencing the world on a multi-sensory level. The story must compel the audience to actually DO things. Pick things up, walk through spaces, follow directions, solve puzzles. I loved the opportunity to help create a world for someone who actually gets to walk through and explore it first-hand.
You contributed more than the script writing for this experience; can you share what else you did for Ralph Breaks VR?
I was there from the inception of the design. I collaborated with ILMxLAB and The VOID to invent rooms and experiences, adapting the story as our design and needs changed. I also played a few voices in the experience — I am the voice of the security guard B.E.V., as well as the frenzied bunnies and kittens.
You mentioned the main villain in this experience – named B.E.V. or Built to Eradicate Viruses – which is a totally new character. How did she come to be a part of the story?
At a certain point we needed an antagonist to drive our story forward. It’s a lot of fun to hang with Ralph and Vanellope, so once we knew we weren’t going to have them on a search and rescue mission, we needed a character to chase after us for a showdown. B.E.V. is actually a character we had in early versions of Ralph Breaks the Internet, an anti-virus software who stops at nothing to eradicate viruses. She’s very good at her job.
What’s your favorite moment in the experience?
Every time I go through I find something I hadn’t seen before that becomes my new favorite. (It’s true!)
Why should Ralph Breaks the Internet fans be excited for Ralph Breaks VR?
It’s completely immersive, fun, and funny. Something you truly have to experience to believe. There’s something in there for everybody, and you don’t have to be a gamer to have a great time. I love that I can take my whole family to it — from my youngest tech-savvy cousin to my mom (who still thinks video games cost a quarter)— and know they’ll all have a hilarious time.
Shereif Fattouh, ILMxLAB Producer
How would you describe the story of Ralph Breaks VR?
It’s an all new adventure that you and your friends take with Ralph and Vanellope! Ralph gets a hot tip from one of his old school gaming buddies about the coolest, newest game on the internet, and he wants to break in early to check it out with you. The only problem is, there’s a pretty intense security system called B.E.V. (Built to Eradicate Viruses), who has her eye on you the whole time. Since this is Wreck-it-Ralph we’re talking about, there are all sorts of shenanigans that take place, putting you and your friends in the center of the action.
In Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, you’re disguised as a very well-known generic character – a stormtrooper. Who are you, as the guest, in Ralph and Vanellope’s universe?
In order to dodge B.E.V, you and friends are disguised as “Netizens” (friendly internet citizens), from the world of Wreck-it-Ralph. At the start of the experience, you can choose from among six character cards that have their own unique look and personality; and you can pick whichever Netizen identity you prefer. At the end of the experience, you can even take your Netizen card home with you.
There are a lot of new elements, including locations, in this experience. What is “Dunderdome” and how did that location come about?
Dunderdome is our unique take on some classic video game references. Savvy gaming fans will probably recognize them, but there are also plenty of all-new original gameplay elements mixed in that spice up your old favorites. One of the coolest parts of this environment is how we played with spatial positioning and room scale. Without giving away any spoilers, guests will have the opportunity to be inside Dunderdome, in a very literal sense.
Ralph Breaks VR incorporates points and scoring, a first for an ILMxLAB-developed experience. Why make that decision here?
Narrative and story-telling will always remain at the heart of our experiences at ILMxLAB. In this specific story, incorporating a scoring system made sense for Wreck-it-Ralph as it was a natural fit for his character and the fiction. Guests have the ability to view their scores throughout the experience by looking at their virtual wristwatches, which also functions as a scoreboard. There are also giant in-fiction scoreboards placed inside the world, so it’s communicated loud and clear how everyone is performing. It’s a fun, new element, and people love to one-up their friends and family to see who comes out on top!
Tickets for Ralph Breaks VR are available now at TheVOID.com.