It’s fun to think about all the ways we can tell stories: from cave paintings and campfire ghost stories, to mime, stage plays, and movies. Last weekend, I attended a workshop in which the speaker, Chris Pack, discussed how movies are being adapted to virtual reality, changing the story-telling game even more. The above video is an interactive virtual reality horror film called Speak of the Devil.
Every time something new comes out, there are hold-outs who insist that “the old ways” are superior. I usually do not agree. I’m excited by change and evolution. I appreciate all the different story-telling modalities. I like watching movies at home, even on my phone, for example, just as much as I like watching movies in the theater. This depends on the genre, of course, and my mood. But the convenience of sitting in the comfort of home, with all my favorite snacks around me, and my own bathroom nearby, is pretty damn cool. There’s something about putting on my headphones and immersing myself, alone, in a movie, which is special and distinct from sharing the experience with a room full of strangers.
At the same time, reading is and always will be my first love. There’s nothing that can replace my own imagination, which gets to enjoy the most freedom when I’m reading a great book. There’s something self-caring and self-loving about giving myself the time and space to enjoy a good book.
But I’m a fan of new technology, so I am excited about virtual reality and all the other future technology that will help us tell stories. What’s most important is our own interaction with the story. There are different considerations that come with each medium. There are ethical considerations that arise with virtual reality that don’t come up in the same way with books or movies.
If your character-point-of-view in the virtual reality movie is a murderer, for example, and you are given his perspective, could this pose psychological problems? Could it cause permanent trauma? What about explosions, accidents, and sex scenes? Watching something happen, versus participating in it from a first-person perspective, is a different experience. We already have this with games, but game plots are usually pretty limited. The power of a good plot, combined with a first-person “reality” perspective could be quite powerful and influential in both good and bad ways.
So, the future is coming, whether we embrace it or reject it. In order to take our place as storytellers of the future, we have to think about how the technology affects the way the story is told and the impact it could have on the viewer. It’s all very exciting.
Happy storytelling and have a great weekend!