ADS is a acronym for Avatar Depression Syndrome. It’s a condition where people who have viewed James Cameron’s blockbuster come out feeling depressed, sometimes to the point of being suicidal. One cynical poster coined the term “avatards” to describe the victims – rather cruel IMHO. The effect seems to be particularly notable when the film is viewed in 3D. Law professor Ann Althouse’s blog reasons that it’s a sense of loss brought on by living in a dying world (i.e. our own planet) compared to the eco-friendly approach of the Na’vi portrayed in the film.
The reason the ADS phenomenon caught my attention is that I’ve been thinking about the affective effects of immersive technology a lot lately. A colleague of mine is currently researching the impact of immersive-technology induced motion-sickness (think 3D roller-coaster rides) on cognition. There’s no getting around the fact that as we move from a flatscreen monitor world to immersive 3D environments we’re going to have to deal with this technological phenomenon sooner or later.
Hip geeksite EPIC FU’s commentator Zadi Diaz asks: “If people are sad because this movie is so immersive and rich, then what does it say about our REAL world?” EPIC FU’s discussion page on this topic attracted a wealth of responses, generally a mix of dismissive and sympathetic posts, with some armchair psychologist musing thrown in for good measure.