Lately virtual reality has been the buzzword to throw around whenever any kind of content discussion has taken place. There’s no denying it’s an interesting development in the content business, nor is there any denying there is a fair amount of funding and some pretty big movers and shakers involved in creating the tech and the content that should make VR shine.
I’ve consulted on the story-angle of a couple of VR projects and I’ve made sure I’ve been keeping tabs on different interesting projects in the field – both when it comes to tech and when it comes to stories. But the more I delve into VR (and to be fair, I haven’t yet fully dismissed he notion that it will all turn out to be the new 3D TV hype or any other of the myriads of hypes that have sprung up over the past years and decades) the more I’m inclined to agree with Mike Monello who commented on VR that:
A lot of money and talent are flooding into the VR space, hoping to crack the nut of VR storytelling. VR is incredible for so many experiences, but linear storytelling doesn’t seem to be one of them. I’m not being a crotchety old man here — over the last 25 years I’ve collected numerous VR headsets and gear. A VR language will emerge, and it will be exciting, but it won’t be centered around storytelling.
I believe the real strength of VR will lie in providing experiences, not stories per say. Yes, the experiences will contain stories, but not in the way the entertainment industry, say, would recognize them as.
I can see a VR project where we follow someone canoeing up the Amazonas, in real time…. Although we can pause it anytime we want, and return to it anytime we want. I can see – as soon as live streaming speed and tech is up to scratch – us watching a boxing game or a football game, while sitting next to a famous boxer or footballer who talk to us throughout the game about interesting aspects of the match or game. I think VR will be just that – virtual reality, not virtual blockbuster movie or virtual tv series – and I think we need to approach the possibilities from that angle.
Note: There are naturally a host of other spaces, apart from storytelling and content production, where VR will play important roles, from allowing judges and lawyers to better experience a crime scene, to allowing doctors to examine conditions more thoroughly, all the way to using VR as pain relief. This post though only addresses content.