‘Mr. Robot’ creator Sam Esmail likes VR. But he’s not going all-in on it.


Instead, Esmail says on the latest Recode Decode, VR should be one of many mediums for modern storytellers.

Having already been disrupted by the rise of mobile phones and streaming services like Netflix, many in Hollywood are keeping their eyes on virtual reality (for what it’s worth, Ashton Kutcher says it’s overhyped).

Sam Esmail, creator of the hit drama “Mr. Robot,” is one of the people in the “pro-VR” camp, releasing a well-received spinoff experience at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Esmail said he would do a project that’s entirely in VR — but he doesn’t want to.

“The idea is, you’re connecting all these things into one experience, one storytelling universe, if you want to call it that,” Esmail said. “And I’m not just talking about sequels and prequels and whatever, I’m talking about legitimately saying, ‘No, you will deepen your experience of the characters, the world, by going into these other places.’”

For “Mr. Robot,” those “other places” include the VR experience, a book called “Red Wheelbarrow” and a mobile game called “1.51exfiltrati0n.ipa.” Esmail stressed that these are not marketing gimmicks — they’re very much a part of the full story he intends to tell, and part of his vision for the future of entertainment.

“Eventually, someone’s going to come up with a big movie, a big whatever it is, a big universe,” he said. “And they’re going to start it from the beginning and they’re going to utilize every faction, every screen, and it’s going to be an entire experience, and it’s going to prove the model.”

He was inspired in part by his experience as a fan of the often-cryptic drama “Lost.” After each episode, he and his friends would spend hours arguing about what the show meant, and he’d find himself driven online hunting for clues and Easter eggs.

He added that although he loves watching shows that release their whole seasons at once, that approach keeps viewers out of sync with one another and less like to have a “community experience.”

You can listen to Recode Decode in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher. On Wednesday, we’ll have a bonus episode of Decode in which Kara talks to former AOL executive Ted Leonsis.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher. Tomorrow, we’ll have a bonus episode of Recode Media in which Peter talks to Defy Media president Keith Richman.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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