Imagine a world where film directors cannot point out details that will give you cues to their story. Imagine a world where Steven Spielberg isn’t able to show you, in Jurassic Park, the water trembling inside the glass, the disappearance of the goat, and finally, that the electrical fence is not working anymore. Suddenly, he’s not able to tell you that you are currently in danger, because you were not looking at the “right” direction with your VR mask.
With VR, people will get to direct their own show. And only by profoundly understanding their audience will creators be able to tell stories.
The challenge lies in the blurring effect of VR. It will blur creator/audience frontiers and multiply the possibilities of interaction.
Active consumption keeps pushing its way
One of the biggest changes that come with the adoption of VR is the shift in people’s role as media consumers. They will no longer be a passive audience. They will actively transform what they consume, while they consume it. For instance, during a VR movie experience, the audience will get to choose their own viewing angle, not the film director. The outcomes and interpretation of any piece of media will be endless. In VR, nothing will be deemed complete before all consumers put their hands on it.
It might take us a while to realize the huge impact of VR on human experiences. But how do we make sure this impact is fully taken advantage of?
The answer may lie in empathy. A great product/market fit translates into increased adoption, and ultimately, increased revenues for companies. But it also leads to even more opportunities for innovation. I have recently covered the importance of reaching out to extreme users for product insights. That’s because the closer innovators are to consumers, the easier they will find ways to improve existing technologies. The goal is to understand people’s true needs and how technology can fit in.
The same principle would apply for VR. We can only explore its true potential once we’ve learned how people really use it in their daily lives. And there’s no better way to do that than being in their skin. Viewing through their own eyes, watching from their angle. Just like they would do with a VR device.
It all comes down to a new dimension of innovation. Digital content is now more prone to co-creation than ever, and innovation requires much more engagement with consumers.
Video game designers are already a step ahead
The video game industry is used to create complex environments where multidimensional variables take place and people get to interact “freely”.
Back in 2010, video game developer Quantic Dream had already created a game named Heavy Rain, where player’s decisions and reactions affect the narrative. And a remastered version of the game is expected to launch soon for Playstation 4. The 2010 review by GameSpot reveals how much of a breakthrough Heavy Rain represented to the video game industry then. Surprisingly (or not), the exact same observation could be made for VR experiences:
The goal of every story is to form some degree of connection with its observer. Most often, this link is fleeting at best, but every now and then, a much deeper bond is formed. This bond is one in which the observer is less of a passive participant and more of an emotionally engaged accomplice. link
We still have no idea of how far Virtual Reality will take us in our daily lives. Every few years, we find ourselves over contemplating the possibilities of new technologies and hoping for futuristic shifts that they will bring us.
The technology is on its way, that’s a given. But how VR will really make it through our lives is a challenge to be solved. Once again, empathy will probably be key to bring meaningful experiences.
© Samsung Gear VR (bottom)