Quick hint: VR storytelling isn’t the only one.
Once upon a time, reading was the only escape we had.
Technology changes everything.
Radio. Television. Movies. Internet. Smartphones. Snapchat. Instagram. Netflix.
Reading is not the only escape anymore.
Just like anything in this world, books need to evolve, so it can stay alive.
So, it evolves.
Audio books. Scripts. E-book. Medium. Wattpad.
However, another distraction is coming, as two technologies are being on the work by big giant techs, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Sony, and HTC. Even Hollywood industry is considering this technology for their upcoming movies.
These technologies are cousins. So, let me introduce them:
Please, welcome, virtual reality and augmented reality.
Haven’t heard of them yet? You’re on the right article.
Virtual reality is when you can virtually go inside the book. Imagine reading Harry Potter and you can virtually visit and explore Hogwarts, meet Harry, Ron, and Hermione, join the training. You can achieve that all from virtual reality. Take a look at the example of Google Earth in virtual reality below:
Meanwhile, augmented reality is when you want to make your books come alive. Like this:
But how will virtual reality change writers and publishers?
When radio and television arose, we found scriptwriters. When smartphones came, we have an e-book. When the internet got mainstream recognition, we found Medium and Wattpad. So, what’s next for virtual reality and augmented reality?
1 . Storytelling in virtual reality: VR Storytelling, Storyliving
All this time, we all are just the audiences. But virtual reality will break the rule. We will be inside each frame of a movie, having a presence, freely looking around, connecting with the characters, and soon we will be able to affect the plot of the story.
We are now in the state of Hollywood-uploading-trailer-of-upcoming-movies-in-virtual-reality. For example, watch these trailers, ps: you can freely look around, and if you want to be inside the frame, wear a virtual reality viewer.
Also, we are also in the state of short-movies-in-virtual-reality, where we can freely look around, but we’re just there, watching through the same frame with the characters. Google Spotlight Stories produces such short movies:
If you wear a virtual reality viewer, you will feel like you’re sitting in the car with the characters and following their story.
This VR storytelling is quite simple, as the audience won’t affect the plot of the story.
However, as the years go by, we will come to a point where the audience is part of the movie characters. That’s when storytelling evolves in a whole new way. We, as a writer, will no longer decide the whole story. We won’t be the director anymore, instead, we will be just an influencer for the audience to choose where to go and what to do. But each audience will have their own preferences. So, we have to prepare the alternatives; we have to create the boundaries; and anything that will make this VR storytelling possible.
We’ve still got time, so let’s start learning VR storytelling.
2. Books for kids in an immersive way — let’s call it: virtual reality book.
Reading books is boring — at least, for now, for some kids who are too engaged with their smartphones. You could give your kids a book about What’s Inside Human Body, but they could yell at you and say, “Why should we read a book if we can watch it on YouTube?”
And, that’s true. The internet simplifies everything, so we need to create a book that has an experience that can’t be experienced on the internet.
You might ask, “But how?”
Virtual reality is the answer.
Imagine giving your kids a book about What’s Inside Human Body. Nevertheless, this book features a pair of goggles that let the wearer travel through what’s inside the human body. Isn’t it something that can’t be done on the internet?
But you might ask, “But how is that possible?”
There is already a template for that. Visual Experience, the first virtual reality company in the Middle East since 2013, has patented BeThere, a book that features an attached virtual reality viewer, with the ability to add pages and add 3D pop-up objects, and anything possible, suitable for education.
3. Researching and looking for inspiration with virtual reality
If you’re just a writer who loves experimenting new stuff, or if you’re a writer who’s currently writing a book set in London while you’re living in NYC, then virtual reality is for you.
Virtual reality enables you to travel around the world with Google Earth VR.
Virtual reality also enables you to create your own world with Tilt Brush.
4. Promote your works with virtual reality — for publishers
For an avid reader, reading a blurb is enough to decide whether we want to buy this book or not. But what if your book has one-minute-virtual-reality-trailer where readers can taste the experience of the book.
I’ll take the example from BeThere.
Let say, you’re giving away BeThere to your customers (it could be when they purchase), just like what The New York Times did with Cardboard. With BeThere, the customers can always get updated with the newest book virtual reality trailer through a QR code, which will lead them to a page of a list of upcoming books with its trailers in virtual reality. And, you can customize it based on your requirements and needs.
Many have predicted that virtual and augmented reality will be the next big thing after computers, the internet, and smartphones. Hence, Apple is working with its ARKit, which will be featured on the next iOS. Facebook bought Oculus, one of the most leading virtual reality companies, for $2bn two years ago and is now preparing a social media in virtual reality called Space. Since 2014, Google has been working on it. Sony came with PlayStation VR, which has been a breakthrough in gaming evolution — not to mention HTC Vive.
So, writers and publishers, are you ready to embrace this distraction?