Happy Downloadday Imagines A Future Where Children Are Raised In Virtual Reality

By David Wharton | 8 years ago

What if children were no longer born biologically, but were created and lived out their adolescence inside an elaborate virtual reality construct until age 18 when they could be downloaded into physical bodies? That’s the intriguing premise behind Happy Downloadday, a science fiction film that has taken to Kickstarter to try and raise enough funds to complete the project. Unfortunately, they’re still nearly $37,000 short of their target with three days to go. We have any generous and independently wealthy GFR readers out there?

Happy Downloadday is the creation of writer Phil Ferriere and director Sophie Leclerc. The film is set in a future where resources are so scarce that the old-fashioned means of reproduction has been done away with. Children are created virtually, allowed to age and mature in their virtual reality, and then downloaded at 18 into a real body so they can join the “real” world. Happy Downloadday focuses on the story of a virtual teenager who is about to reach his 18th birthday but doesn’t want to be downloaded. That places him in a precarious position, because by bucking societal norms he risks being deleted by angry parents who don’t believe that’s his choice to make. It’s a clever idea that could be used to explore concepts such as the nature of sentience, the responsibilities of adulthood, and the relationship between older and younger generations.

Here’s some background from the project’s official webpage, which describes Happy Downloadday as “a Transhumanist tale from the Singularity”:

Much as in The Hunger Games, where unwilling youth are thrown into a ruthless and dangerous world for the entertainment of cynical adults, the main character of Happy Downloadday lives in a universe where he can be erased at the push of a button by his parents, a mix of two worlds (one real, one virtual) fashioned by adults for adults in which a teenager can only hope to escape an arbitrary fate and subvert the system if armed with a ferocious will and incredible smarts.

In a society where hope, innocence and optimism are at risk, the young need to know it is their energy and resourcefulness that will show us the way to a new and better world.

I have to give the Happy Downloadday team credit for standing out from many Kickstarter projects in one important way. They appear to have already completed much if not all of the filming, so the money being solicited now is to complete things like special effects, color correction, soundtrack, etc. While that financial goal seems night impossible to reach in three days, you never know if this story might end up in the inbox of an eccentric, SF-loving billionaire. Anybody? Stark, Wayne, I’m looking at you!

You can donate to the film at their Kickstarter page. The rewards available for backers if the project reaches its goal range from DVDs or digital copies of the film, signed artwork and screenplays, all the way up to credits in the film itself.

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