While classical storytelling is about relaying our real-life experiences, VR storytelling is about creating an immersion experience that mirrors a real-life experience. But telling a story is not just what VR storytelling is about; it’s about navigating the virtual space, exploring different possibilities of what the body or the brain can do, interacting with characters and events in a particular virtual world as it happens in real-time.
Thus, VR storytelling is changing the ways in which we interact with spaces and with each other. Virtual reality storytelling is part of the larger technique of immersive storytelling, which has at its heart the ability to feel like the audience is “really there,” according to The Guardian.
So, for it to be effective, the virtual reality experience must seem real, to be real for its players or users. The immersion experience must trick the brain into thinking it’s in a world that contains multiple dimensions and multiple aspects. Thus, a great deal of virtual world-building must take place in order for this to happen.
Take, for example, the game, “The Solus Project”, made by Teotl and Grip Games. It’s a first-person, single-player VR experience in an advanced environmental survival game. The world of the story is set in space because the Earth has been destroyed, and the player must survive in a harsh environment and extreme weather conditions, the like not seen on Earth. For this story to unfold, the VR game is very dependent on this alternate world.
2. The Real Body in a VR Space
The players, either as characters or interacting with virtual characters, must navigate through different spaces while immersing themselves in the storyline. For example, the interactive film, Hunger in Los Angeles, made by writer and director Nonny de la Peña, projects the embodied visitor into different spaces within LA.
You walk through the streets of LA while every turn of your head shows you a different view. The film incorporates the storyline of an accident on a normal day: what do you do when you see someone in trouble? This immersive journalism method projects VR storytelling into a new sphere: with you, as the audience, right there when the breaking news happens.
3. Interactive Narrative
Well, it can’t be VR storytelling without a story. But here, instead of listening or reading the story, you experience it. Many games now incorporate choice-based decisions in their storytelling. The interactive film and game Her Story, created by Sam Barlow, takes this on a breathtaking level, with your choice-based decisions solving a murder, or failing.
This story has gives the old detective story genre a new spin, with VR technology, because it tricks your mind into thinking various different things (I won’t spoil it) that may or may not lead to solving the mystery. In telling the story, the narrative arc that the players must go through has to be coupled with intense emotions based on each action they make.
I’ve already said that virtual reality storytelling feels real, but is it really enough? Does it actually work?
For now, it does and it doesn’t. It could definitely be made much better in the future. The technology is lagging behind because every VR experience has to have headsets like HTC VIVE, and when necessary, gyroscopes and motion-sensors, stereoscopic displays, and so on. A lot of these technologies are bulky and time-consuming to put on.
Another challenge is on the dev and design side. There have been many failures in VR storytelling in interactive film and theater in the past that didn’t emphasize a truly immersive world or had a simple narrative that didn’t take into stock complex, real situations, or simply looked bad because of the UX design. A truly successful VR immersion must have these components, as well as a global marketing strategy.
We’re not just telling stories anymore, are we? Due to mixed reality VR, interactive VR, and (maybe) social VR, our lives are changing from this plane to other planes and dimensions. The fields of gaming, film, theater, journalism, and marketing are opening up to incorporate immersive storytelling.
That means even traditional VR storytelling is gonna change. Choice-based narratives are going to be based on their data, from certain movements, rather than on player’s informed decisions, much like it would play out in real life. The films or games we immerse ourselves in will be components of our daily lives, like the wallpaper in our room. If the plans of social VR come to full fruition, we’ll be telling our own private stories minute-by-minute in our completely virtual world.
The line between our physical outer reality and our virtual reality is already starting to blur, with the development of VR and AR. Instead of reading about a news story on Sudan online, you’ll literally be teleported to Sudan, not through some magic dust but through virtual reality. One thing is for sure: VR storytelling is the backbone of a multi-dimensional reality in the future.
VR storytelling is starting to be used worldwide, with prime examples in media, tourism, and the arts. It’s making huge leaps in tourism and media because of the way it can project someone to a specific location. Taking into account the cultural histories and sensitivities of each location, a global marketing strategy with VR in mind incorporates the people, the events, and the situations of these locations. It’s certainly changing the translation industry.
Highly specialized teams in translation agencies must have a good grasp of how a global marketing strategy can help in VR localization, marketing that reaches across various international borders, platforms, cultures. Your in-house team or outside professional services can create your global marketing strategy. Accessing an international audience is one of the most important steps of VR storytelling.
VR storytelling with language translation in mind allows you to experience all different situations in all different cultures, all over the world. For example, AI neural machine networks are used for translation already, by companies such as Tomedes, Lionbridge, and Lilt. These companies already employ cutting-edge technology with the power of AI such as AR, VR for a global marketing strategy on the international stage. VR storytelling forms a substantial competitive advantage in the global market for those who want to use AI in language translation. For more tips on global marketing strategies, read more.