How VR Tells Stories in an Immersive Way
If you have ever experienced virtual reality before then you can relate to how once you are immersed in VR, you are no longer an ordinary spectator of a reflection of something happening a long distance from you; you are in the moment, in that space and with all the people around, a vital part of what you see and hear.
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Virtual Reality’s coming in this period and times when our digital culture has become superficial is a powerful key to unlocking access to new in-depth experiences and immersive storytelling.
The digital culture we live in at the moment has restricted every image we use to pixels and not only that, our lives too. Most times we’ll see that our exchanges and inter-relationship experiences are short and quick instead of long, focused exchanges. Most of the feature films and videos we watch are watched on social media instead of at the cinema. Our book reading culture has declined and we glance through micro-news and short stories in form of tweets of 140 characters. Fast consumption is now the order of the day and time is now broken into bits of short-lived experience and superficial feelings. Awesome doesn’t translate into long-lasting sensations anymore but instead qualifies quickly forgotten sensations.
We use stories to provide description and depict the world we live in. Artists and authors create the shapes and forms these stories, they give them to us, we read or watch them as finished products of their brilliant minds.
Humans have always been storytellers from the prehistoric times with the hand paintings on the walls of caves, to the present age when everything has gone digital with the most sophisticated computer-generated images on our digital screens. The instinct to provide a representation of the world for better understanding is ever so strong and with such an advanced movie industry, screens, like paintings before them, still work the same way; windows for our minds to fly through. The introduction of screens in our lives (from television to computers to mobiles), has increased the number of platforms on which stories can be told. Facebook and Instagram are other means by which our experience of the world is being diluted.
Now there is something new about to happen which will for the first time in mankind history change the concept of reality and its various established modes of representation which is Virtual Reality.
Virtual Reality is a way of digitally recreating a full 360° moving image that surrounds us. Once you get immersed in this different world through the headgear, the viewer’s senses loses all reference and familiarity with the ‘real world’, because it no longer receives any visual or sound information from the real world. If you Google search Virtual reality, you will see amusing videos of people losing their balance while standing still. In such cases, the brain believes the VR and sends messages to the inner-ear nervous system that the body is off balance.
A powerful sense of presence for the viewer is triggered by the incredibly powerful immersive capability of the VR experience. When immersed in VR, you are no longer an ordinary spectator of a reflection of something happening a long distance from you; you are in the moment, in that space and with all the people around, a vital part of what you see and hear.
Now it becomes interesting when we feel empathy through the presence experienced through immersion.
In VR, we move beyond the confines of what writers and film directors call the fourth wall, the abstract screen between the viewer and the action. The story being told becomes a complete experience which the viewer becomes a part of instead of just a spectacle to watch. It is more like a second world and it feels so real that our emotions flow in it as they would in the physical world. We actually relate to characters and people in VR as though we were there with them in real.
It’s still an early foray into the VR experience and the headgear is still clumsy and uncomfortable (the same way the very first developments of cinema at the end of the 19th century seem pedestrian to us today). But in the next two to three years, lightweight designer sunglasses will be an integral part of our daily regular lives and will become the standard interface to access information and content, replacing touch screens and keypads that we have at the moment. This impact of VR will be increased it will be able to offer movement recognition so that not only our vision and hearing will be controlling our VR experience of a virtual world but also our physical movements.
Virtual reality is already opening territories that haven’t been explored before and creating fascinating challenges in the field of storytelling where a brand-new sense of passion can be explored once again.