Tag: virtual reality

Virtual Reality Storytelling and the Future

One of my favorite books is the steampunk adventure Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld set during an alternate-history First World War. The world is lush and well thought out and the characters are incredibly real. Not to mention he is a word-smith extraordinaire.

So, imagine my excitement when I found a virtual reality lab building his world.

This is part of the Creators Project and is being carried out by a group of USC students and professors. They are experimenting with creating landscapes for stories to emerge from. The idea being, if you create a story space and let people interact inside it, unique stories will emerge. This is a similar concept to fan studies, but on a new level.

Keep you eye on this project. I will continue to bring you updates.

The Future of Content: Immersive and Expansive

This post is part of The Future of Digital Content series, which discusses six traits I believe will be at the heart what content will look like in the coming years. These traits form a roadmap that lies at the heart of my research and experiments. The traits also work together, mixing and meshing, to paint a picture of how our future selves may read, watch, learn, and listen.

Read the rest of the series.

Let’s recap real fast. We are talking about what content may look like in the future. How is the line between books, television, internet, apps, and other content forms blurring? With shortening attention spans, how will content evolve?

So far, we’ve touched on five:

  1. Mulit-access – we want our content delivered in many different ways.
  2. Multi-modal – we want content that includes several forms of communication (video, text, sound, etc)
  3. Interactive – We want to take control of our destiny (or content). It should respond to us. Personalized.
  4. Collaborative – Working together with readers and other creators to build something more than we could ourselves.
  5. Social – In real live and in cyberspace, social between authors, characters, and readers.

Now, at the end, we reach immersive and expansive. My personal favorite.

Stories have universes, and we want to explore more than just the small part we see in a video or read in a book. Immersive means that we will be able to surround ourselves and explore content on our own terms. Expansive means that content will link together with other content.

To be honest, the inspiration for these traits come from Comicpalooza and other awesome scifi/comic conventions. For those who don’t know how they work, you basically shove thousands of (comic book, sci-fi, anime, and associated awesomeness) fans into a convention center for a weekend. Let the madness begin. The fans bring their favorite stories to life in really interesting ways: dressing as their favorite characters, creating new characters, writing their own stories based in the world, and creating a myriad of art, games, and other materials. This “fanverse” is not canon (not part of the official story), but often becomes just as important to the fans.

It may sound a little weird, but its a lot of fun. And this growing phenomenon can teach us about the future of content.

Expansive Content

This centers around the concept of a “storyverse,” another feature of my research into narrative identity. A storyverse is usually seen in two different ways, as the universe the story happens in and as the universe of story-related stuff in the real world. For clarification sake, I’m going to break these into two different terms.

The Storyverse

This is the world, the galaxy, the universe of the content itself. This is best seen in fiction, where you have characters playing out in a setting. The reader/audience only sees a small part of that universe — whatever the storyteller wants them to see. But, we can imagine that a character has extended family we never meet, lives in a city with unknown streets, and has lived a life beyond the 400 pages of our book. We don’t get to see everything. Most often, the feeling of a story being just part of a universe is what makes a story shine. You’ve heard of three-dimensional characters and internally-consistent worlds? This is the storyverse.

Increasingly, we are seeing storytellers let the reader into more of the storyverse through bonus features, short stories, and connected series.  In this way, we get to choose our own path as we discover the storyverse. There are extra storybits “out there” for us to play around with. For the moment, let’s stick with “cannon” or official bits of the storyverse.

These extra bits don’t have to be bits at all. Look at Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere or the new Marvel movies. In both cases, there are many stories weaving in and out of each other, connecting with  one another, and building a more complete storyverse than a single, linear story can provide. There are many points of entry and many paths through the narrative.

We can see an expansive trait easily in fiction, but it can be just as powerful in non-fiction content. Think of news articles that relate together, articles connected, and bonus features around social media. We are already seeing this everywhere and it is only going to get stronger.

The Metaverse

If the storyverse is all the official stuff of the story or content, then the metaverse is all the other stuff, the stuff outside cannon. For fiction, these are fan stories, cosplay, licensed artwork, and (most) video games just to name a few. It can (and should) be much more though. What about discussions happening around the story? I mean actually embedded in the page. What about comments and markup? These things ring even more true for non-fiction.

The metaverse is where your readers engage with the storyverse.

This is going to happen, regardless of what you do. What will make content successful in the future is an intentional plan to facilitate this metaverse. How can we encourage this interaction, this creation, this collaboration? Those are the content pieces that will win.

 

Immersive Content

Immersive content surrounds the audience, engaging more than one or two senses. It makes the content part of their world, part of their life. We can see this clearly already with virtual and augmented reality.

Virtual Reality, we will define as engrossing reality. Something that completely surrounds and captivates your audience. The VR headsets are the best example of this so far. Augmented Reality is the accepted term for something that adds to but doesn’t replace the audience’s perception. Things like Google Glasses, which overlay a screen onto the real world would fit here. I would add Engaging Reality in which content engages as many senses as possible, not just sight and sound. Think of interactive theatre or those wonderful scratch-and-sniff stickers.

This may all seem out there, but we are already seeing a lot of this happen. As the future becomes the present, these traits will creep into our content. The most successful — the most memorable, powerful, and effective — content will be intentional about how it is immersive and expansive.

The Path Ahead

This leaves us at the end of our Six Traits of the Future of Content. We have seen how the content of the future (and increasingly of the present) will be multi-access, multimodal, interactive, social, collaborative, and immersive and expansive. The winners of the war for attention will use these traits and create some truly mind-blowing content.

This isn’t the end of the discussion, though. These are my predictions, but no one has the crystal ball, and the future will unravel as it does. I will continue my research and my writing and we will see what happens. How the world will surprise us.

This isn’t even the end of this series! We’ve introduced some basic concepts, but how do we make them work? How do these elements fit together? What is the workflow to create these bits of awesome? Stay tuned, Bat Friends.

This is just the start and the future will be awesome!

Series: The Future of Content

I am a researcher, storyteller, and technologist. Nowhere does that all come together more than in the exploration of how content is evolving. I research how people interact with content and education. I tell stories that are mixed-media and interactive. I build tools and apps that help authors and geeks work together to make awesome content experiences.

the lines are blurring between different kinds of content. Books are becoming websites. Music is meshing with film. Websites and apps are taking over.

Not only is content presentation changing, but the content itself is evolving. Stories are interactive. Articles include videos. Everything is online and part of a conversation between reader and maker.

My research and experiments are about pushing these trends into new places. Those involved in the revolution want to erase the lines that divide presentations (books, movies, websites) so that the content itself gets the show it deserves.

This series explores what the future of digital content might look like. How will books and websites evolve together? Where to games fit in? How will we read, watch, learn, relax, and engage with all the stuff we love in 5, 10, or 20 years?

I focus six traits of content in the future. These traits are my roadmap in most of my research, stories, and experiments. I would like to share them with you and get feedback on how you think content will evolve.

1. Multi-Access

You want your content your way. And you want to access your content in multiple ways.

2. Mixed Media and Multimodal

Content will not just be one thing. A story will alternate between pictures, text, and audio. Articles will include videos. And they will engage more than just one or two senses.

3. Interactive

Bonus features and behind-the-scenes videos are interactive, but what about letting the reader actually change the story as it goes. Or movies where the audience talks with the characters. Oh, and personalized, too.

4. Collaborative

Maker and Audience are distinctions that are starting to fade. We can all work together to build content that is something unlike any one person could have planned.

5. Social

Yes, content will be shared, tweeted, digged, forked, thrown, liked, hated, reviewed, and even more. Content will be integrated into life.

6. Immersive and Expansive

Stories have universes, and we want to explore more than just the small part we see in a video or read in a book. Immersive means that we will be able to surround ourselves and explore content on our own terms. Expansive means that content will link together with other content.

Stick with me as I explore what each of these mean and we discuss how to push digital content forward into the future.

The Future of Content: Interactive

This post is part of The Future of Digital Content series, which discusses six traits I believe will be at the heart what content will look like in the coming years. These traits form a roadmap that lies at the heart of my research and experiments. The traits also work together, mixing and meshing, to paint a picture of how our future selves may read, watch, learn, and listen.

Read the rest of the series.

Content is changing, spurred by the digital revolution and guided by content-users through tools like social media. Content is changing for the better and I am excited to be a part of what’s next.

To do that, I define what I think the “future of content” is. Well, that’s convenient — its the title of this series. In six posts, I am unveiling six traits I believe to be at the heart of what content is becoming, and therefore, at the core of everything I do. So far along this road I have discussed multi-access content and mixed-media content.

Content will also be interactive, but that’s so much more than just “choose your own adventure stories.”

What “Interactive” Could Mean

In my post (Seven) Interactive Story Ideas Aided by Technology, I list some possibilities:

1. Giant Madlib

What about a story that knows your reader? Not your target audience, but your specific reader. Before the story started, the reader input several details about their life: favorite color, vacation, fears, etc. And the story, like the world”™s best madlib, put these details in the right spot, making each experience different. Unique to the reader.

Read More

Virtual Reality Cinema: Interviews With Mad Scientists

Virtual reality is coming of age, and it’s really great stuff. Everyone seems to see the benefit in gaming, computers, and research simulation, but a small group see VR revolutionizing the film industry. Imagine being able to immerse yourself in a movie. Not a computer-animated film, but a photo-captured story.

These innovators at the Sundance Festival are talking about just that, and asking some big questions:

  • What does the future of film look like?
  • How much agency does the audience want?
  • How can filmakers adapt their craft in an immersive world?
  • And a lot more.

The video is almost an hour long, but even the first 10 minutes is worth a look.


 

Goodnight Lad: Augmented Reality Children’s Book by Bradley Grimm

Goodnight Lad: Augmented Reality Children’s Book by Bradley Grimm.

I’m always talking about how the sky is the limit when it comes to interactive, mixed-media books. Well, Bradley Grimm has pushed that limit even further. This kid’s picture book includes an app that, when the phone is pointed at the book, brings the story to life in 3D animation. Awesome concept. I’m a little jealous to be honest.

Everyone, lets get in on the ground floor and help him out!

Goodnight Lad: Augmented Reality Children’s Book by Bradley Grimm

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