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When Literature Museum Meets Technology: Isles of Dream Monsters, a VR Game

  • PublishTime:2024-03-29

Hsiao An-Kai, translated by Melanie A. Leng

When not on display in exhibitions, museum artifacts can only lie quietly in the corners of the museum warehouse. How can these artifacts be given another chance to shine? This is an objective that NMTL has been committed to in recent years. In 2018, NMTL proposed a brand new project with the goal of developing video games that integrate digital technology, gaming, literature, and cultural artifacts. One of the results was Isles of Dream Monsters, the first VR shooting game created by NMTL, completed in 2019. This game’s script was selected through a student scriptwriting contest held in 2018. Players play as a young dream tamer who works to uncover the secrets to stop the Nightmare Beasts across five levels.

The storyline of Isles of Dream Monsters begins in the human world, where the lands of once highly developed civilizations have since become uninhabitable due to human greed and exploitation. In another world called the Isles of Dream Monsters, there lives a group known as the Dream Tamers. The Isles of Dream Monsters is an archipelago where Dream Tamers peacefully coexist with Dream Beasts. After a disaster struck the human world, the Dream Tamers, unable to bear the sight of human suffering, moved the humans to the Isles of Dream Monsters. At first, everything was peaceful, but as time passed, the Dream Beasts began to feed on the nightmares of humans, gradually transforming into ferocious nightmare beasts. The worst of them all - Galactic Dream - leaves nothing but destruction in its wake. It is now up to the young Dream Tamers to return to ancient times and find a way to prevent Galactic Dream from losing control and restore peace and prosperity to the Isles of Dream Monsters.

Isles of Dream Monsters is inspired by the work of five Taiwan writers: Ye Shih-tao(葉石濤), Chang Shen-chieh(張深切), Lung Ying-tsung(龍瑛宗), Lin Hai-yin(林海音), and Yao Yi-wei(姚一葦). Through the concept of islands and land, the game combines the writers' lives and the artifacts in NMTL’s collection to create an opportunity for players to reflect on humanity. The term "Dream Beasts" comes from Ye Shih-tao, who metaphorically likened writers to dream-eating beasts. The game builds upon this concept: In ancient times, Dream Tamers, who symbolize writers, nurtured groups of dream beasts and coexisted with them peacefully, in accordance with their ideals. However, the greed of modern society has caused humans to have frequent nightmares. As the dream beasts feed on these impure dreams, they become corrupted and transform into nightmare beasts that wreak havoc across the Isles. The game also incorporates everyday items stored at NMTL, including Yao Yi-wei's suitcase, Lin Hai-yin's elephant figurines, Chang Shen-chieh's collection of celebrity autographs, Lung Ying-tsung's wheelchair, and Ye Shih-tao's rattan chair. These cultural artifacts have been digitized through 3D scanning and are visible in the game. NMTL hopes to deepen players' understanding of the achievements and contributions of these Taiwan writers through such efforts to combine literature with digital technology.

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