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Interview Chris Haughton

The Irish author Chris Haughton was at the 33th edition of the Montreuil Children’s Book Fair to present his VR experience "Little Earth", developed by Red Rabbit. We took the chance to ask him a few questions.

Could you introduce yourself in a few words ?

I have been a freelance illustrator for 12 years. My work for the fair trade company  People Tree drew me into working with a number of non-profit projects and i have been doing lots of fair trade projects ever since
Since then I have also begun writing children’s books, A BIT LOST,  OH NO GEORGE !,  SHH! We have a plan and Goodnight Everyone. 
My first app, HAT MONKEY was released in September 2014. My VR experience LITTLE EARTH was released in 2017.

 You came at the Montreuil Children’s Book Fair to present your last project « Little Earth ». It’s a VR installtion based on your « Goodnight everyone » book. You created it as a simple way to explain complex matters like global warming to children. Why was it particularly relevant to use VR on this specific project ?

I think the interactive immersive element is something that can bring a different experience and so they can actually see how the seasons and night and day works. I was mainly interested in using VR as a creative tool myself and seeing the possibilities with this new medium.

We know that VR experience are really difficult to develop because of the technical knowledges that it requires but also because it is really expensive. What was the cooperation like between Red Rabbit and you on this project ?

 Red Rabbit have been fantastic, I worked with them before on my app Hat Monkey. They have a lot of experience doing apps and have recently wanted to move into doing VR. I think we have developed a very good working relationship

VR is still considered with caution and the full potential of this technology is not always perceived. What would you say to someone arguing  that it is not as educative as a classic book ?

It is certainly very different from a book. I don’t think the two can be compared. It is like arguing a film is not as educational as a book. Generally I think books have a lot more educational advantages over VR for now but it will be interesting to see how this technology develops. Particularly from an educational point of view, VR has enormous potential in my view.

 Does this experience change something in the way  you want to work  on your future projects ? Would you consider participate to the creation of another VR installation? 

I would be interested in doing more with VR but i can’t help feeling that the book is the most powerful medium for me. A book is a much simpler format which means I can have the most creative control.

How do you see the future of creative storytelling ?

There will be many new formats and experiences but i don’t think the book will ever go away.