Xbox Looks Deep Into Gamers' Lucid Dreams Right After They Play

215 McCann work explores 'Targeted Dream Incubation'

We love it when advertising goes a step further than it needs to, bringing us to a place where we can imagine possibilities we hadn't considered this morning. 

Xbox's "Made From Dreams," part of the "Power Your Dreams" campaign, is one such effort. Created to promote the Xbox Series X, it's the fruit of a partnership with 215 McCann and dream scientists engaged in so-called Targeted Dream Incubation methods—a technique for guiding dreams toward specific themes. A lot of the research can be found in a special edition of the Consciousness and Cognition journal, which focused on dream engineering in its fall issue. 

The work basically involves Xbox triggering lucid dreams, then invading them, Inception-style. Lucid dreaming is when you become aware you're dreaming, and can control the dream. There are a lot of interesting benefits to being able to lucid dream—like safely exploring, and even finding catharsis for, traumas, fears, fantasies and different life possibilities. 

And it's a muscle you can develop! Here's a primer on how it works and what techniques can be used to strengthen this ability. 

In "Made From Dreams," 215 McCann and Xbox worked with gamers who used the Series X console for the first time before sliding into sleep. Once the gamers were in a semi-lucid state known as hypnagogia—a liminal space between asleep and awake—researchers used a dream recording technology called Hypnodyne to explore dreams as they hatched them.

The series kicks off with "Lucid Odyssey," featuring streamer MoonLiteWolf and directed by Taika Waititi. 

Xbox Series X – Lucid Odyssey by Taika Waititi

Actual audio recorded from the dream study features in the work, which is otherwise visually embellished by Waititi's fine hand. For anyone with an ounce of exposure to dream logic, what MoonLiteWolf encounters and sees is appropriately alien yet relatable. We're especially fond of the weird profundities that dreamfolk always tend to spout.

"Was I supposed to fly this whole time?" she wonders.

"You're supposed to go wherever you go," a glowing bunny tells her.

And of course, because she just played Halo a minute ago, Master Chief appears as a deejay with a cat head, spinning an EDM version of the Halo Monk Chant. Nice, Xbox!

Football player Odell Beckham Jr. gets the treatment next. He also gets a custom controller and some Air Force 1's, customized to match his dreamscape and experiences. Lucky.

Xbox Series X – OBJ’s Dream Kit – Power Your Dreams

Last comes Steve Saylor, or BlindGamerSteve, who walks us through his dreams after playing Destiny 2: Beyond Light. In this case, 3-D spatial sound brings his basic descriptive recording to life: "Close your eyes," Xbox tells us in its YouTube description, "and let the soundscapes of Steve's dreams take you to Europa—and beyond."

Xbox Series X — 3D Spatial Sound – Walking in Steve’s Dreams

Each video approaches the same study in a different creative way, which is a cool touch; otherwise, listening to people's dreams—in a scientific setting, to boot—can be a drag. Work like this also inspires a desire to explore our own liminal possibilities. It also helps if you can get a custom controller and some shoes out of the deal.

The video below loosely describes the science and procedures used, and summarizes the campaign nicely.

Xbox Series X – Made From Dreams

All this is designed to remind you that "the next generation of Xbox consoles is what dreams are made of—literally." We'll ignore that trite little PR pretext and focus instead on the overall coolness of this work: It provided creative collaborators with a unique experience, and was clearly fun for the agency and team to work on. Some effort was made to make this interesting for viewers. Lastly, exposing more people to lucid dreaming, especially in a time when so much already feels like a chaotic waking dream, is more of a social plus than a minus.

If you're looking for a more coherent justification for its existence, we like OBJ's observation: "Gaming to me is like being in a dream world. It takes you to a whole 'nother place." Having lost whole days and nights to No Man's Sky, we know this to be true.

A few other creative efforts support these core videos. Artist Quentin Deronzier created a series of digital artworks inspired by Stallion83's dreams, themselves heavily influenced by Assassin's Creed Valhalla. And digital creator Johanna Joskowska created AR social filters that enabled fans to load different game-themed experiences from Emericagirl24's dreams, which playfully explore aspects of Cyberpunk 2077. 

Both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are available globally, just in time for the holidays.


Campaign title: Power Your Dreams
Brand: Xbox
Creative title: Made From Dreams (content series)
Client: Microsoft Xbox

Client: Microsoft / Xbox
Xbox, Director, Brands and Advertising: Craig McNary
Xbox, Sr. Integrated Marketing Manager: Josh Munsee

Agency: 215 McCann
Chief Creative Officer: Scott Duchon
Creative Director: Nichole Geddes
ACD/Art Director: Shawn Raissi
Senior Copywriter: John Friedman
Director of Integrated Production: Mandi Holdorf
Senior Producer: Gabby Gardner
Senior Digital Producer: Neile Weeks
Producer: Christina Chin
Associate Producer: Jessie Ybarra
Director of Business Affairs: Mary Beth Barney
Business Director: Peter Goldstein
Management Supervisor: Devina Hardatt
Account Supervisor: Harold McKeon
Account Supervisor: Chris Levy
Director of Strategy: Brian Wakabayashi
Strategy Director: Ryan Riley
Senior Strategist: Christian Stewart

Lucid Odyssey (short film)
Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Taika Waititi
Managing Director/EP: Mino Jarjoura
Director of Sales/EP: Dan Duffy
Producer: Rick Jarjoura
Director of Photography: Matthew Libatique

Editorial: Cut & Run
Editor: Steve Gandolfi
Assistant Editor: Tim Sekiguchi
Executive Producer: Deanne Mehling 
Producer: Caylee Banz 

Composer: Gareth Coker

Sound Design: Trinitite
Sound Designer: Brian Emrich

Final Mix: Lime Studios
Audio Mixer: Rohan Young
Audio Assistant: Jeremy Nichols
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

Color: Company 3
Senior Colorist: Sean Coleman
Senior Producer: Matt Moran
Executive Producer: Ashley McKim

Visual Effects: Parliament

Digital Dream Art (cinemagraphs)
Production + Animation: La Pac
Director: Quentin Deronzier
Producer: Anna Roudaut
Post Producer: Françoise Hernandez
Supervisor: Julien Missaire
Artist CGI / Compositing : Vitaliy Havrylyuk
Artist CGI / Compositing: Alexy Prefontaine
Artist CGI / Compositing: Peter Shkolniy
Music Composer / Sound Designer: Felower

AR Dream Filters
Digital Artist: Johanna Jaskowska @johwska
Agent: Aras Sehatkar

OBJ's Dream Kit (custom AF1s)
Xbox, Lifestyle and Pop Culture Marketing: Kumar Manix

Editorial: Cut+Run SF
Editor: Sean Fazende
Assistant Editor: Kelly Henson
Assistant Editor: Stefan Manz
Producer: Caylee Banz
Assistant Producer: Laura Hardy
Executive Producer: Deanne Mehling

Odell Beckham Jr.'s Creative Director: Ajay Sangha
Camera Crew: ITN productions
Post-Production: Jogger SF
Lead Flame Artist: Brendan Crockett
Creative Director: Andy Brown
Producer: Caylee Banz
Executive Producer: Deanne Mehling

Walking in Steve's Dreams (3D audio)
Sound Design: Big Orange – The Audio Agency
Audio Storyline / Audio Scenario / 3D Supervision: Vincent de Koning
Sound Design / Mixing / Mastering: Vincent de Koning & Jos Jansen
Production Manager: Jolien Neperus

Animation: King & Country
Executive Producer: Jerry Torgerson
CD: Rick Gledhill
Producer: Ryan Lowrie
Animators: Austin Hyde, Arturo Perez

Made from Dreams (behind-the-science video)
Editorial & Post-Production: Craft
Producer: Philip Ohler
Editor: Devin Altobello
Editor: Matt Flamm
Graphics: Mark Yagos
Audio Mixer: Nick MacDonald

Composer: Gareth Coker
Dream Study (video capture)
Production: Craft
Head of Content: Adam Hirsch
Senior Producer: Shelley Claudon
Producer: Cheng Liu
Business Affairs Manager: Meredith Thornbill
DP: John Tanner

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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