Writing for VR Ultimate Guide to VR Storytelling
Traditional methods of storytelling don’t work with virtual reality (VR). That’s because you’re not just selling a story, you’re selling an experience. You need to give customers a reality where they’re living the story and not just reading or watching it.
Constructing the reality
The quality of the technology plays a huge role in VR storytelling. That won’t matter, however, if the story isn’t consistent. This makes the job for VR storytellers even more difficult, as any errors in continuity will leave the viewer feeling deflated.
This consistency is in terms of making the viewer feel as though everything is natural. When watching a TV show, for example, you don’t fixate on objects and instead simply the interaction between characters. When writing a novel, you don’t need to detail every part of the setting as the reader will do that for you with their imagination.
With VR, it’s different. When in a real-life situation, viewers are more skeptical of the world around them. The storyteller needs to be sure that the world they are seeing in virtual reality videos is consistent to what they’d see in the real world.
Who are they?
There are certain settings where people expect a certain type of role. In contrast to this, if you’re sitting on a bench then you know that you could be anyone. If you’re sitting in a lecture hall, however, you’re going to feel like a student.
If you are standing at the front with a class in front of you, you’d feel like the teacher. There is no such thing as a neutral observer in virtual reality. The viewer needs to know what their role is within the scene.
The wandering eye
One of the problems that the storytellers in VR have is that viewers are free to look at whatever they wish. Let’s take that lecture hall example. In that scenario, the viewer could be paying attention to the people next to them, someone else’s notes or the professor. That doesn’t include everything else that’s in the room.
For the storyteller, that means making sure the viewer is paying attention to what you want them to. You don’t want the viewer to be distracted by anything that might be useless, unless you use a little chaos to tell the story. You just need to think about how the viewer interprets everything around them.
Find the right balance
Having a 360° perception can be an issue in storytelling. It can easily distract the viewer and overload them with information. In real life, you are only ever really focusing on one thing and one sound at a time. Giving them multiple focuses can distract them from the story.
The balance has to be found though as viewers expect to have 360° available to them. You need to use this to set the tone and ambiance of the scene without overloading their senses. It’s a delicate balance but one that can be found.
Do they feel present?
This is the question that you consistently need to ask yourself. Will the story you’re adding make them feel more or less present in the scene? If you consistently ask yourself the question, you will be able to ensure your VR story is a great one.