Skip to main content

Offshore International, A New Interactive Documentary At The Frontier Of Serious Gaming

Filmmakers Brenda Longfellow and Glen Richards in collaboration with Helios Design Labs, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Toronto, Canada, have recently launched Offshore International, their new interactive documentary (i-DOC).

Offshore International provides a look at the new frontiers of the globalized fossil fuel industry, showing oil fields in Brazil, Ghana, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. This new immersive experience follows the story of the proliferation of offshore drilling off the coasts of those countries and is a part two of the interactive documentary project Offshore released in 2013. It continues an exploration of the dangers and consequences of the deep water oil fields through the eyes of journalists, activists and filmmakers.

According to the i-DOCs website, Offshore builds a creative space between Serious Games and interactive documentaries to look into the consequences of oil exploration. An interactive experience in which gameplay and cinematic art are both executed at a high level, and a serious investigation that raises important questions and advances some possible solutions.

Combining game logic and immersive interface, above all it tries to find a new language to engage a web audience that is game savvy, but maybe not energetically engaged.

Offshore – Part 1 takes us to a deserted, damaged platform far out to sea. The the storytelling takes place within a virtual 3D oil rig, leveraging on the immersive interface to tackle the dangers, the economic and ecologic consequences of offshore oil extraction. 

Described as a feature-length interactive documentary, Longfellow initially imagined the film as an “operatic documentary” on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, the largest maritime oil spill in history. Her sketches for Offshore draw on some of the experimental aspects of her previous documentaries.

The final project, however, is far more than just a feature-length expansion of these earlier short films. Offshore takes the form of a sequence of narratives that viewers can encounter in their own way, at their own pace and in their own time.

The obvious setting of the OFFSHORE story is the oil platform itself, but no oil company in their right mind is going to allow people asking these questions anywhere near their rigs.

Director-filmmakers Brenda Longfellow and Glen Richards spent a year researching and filming footage of people, places, oil, water, and machinery. Helios Design Labs, as the interactive part of the team, spent about the same amount of time building a huge oil platform.