Experience and Storytelling Behind Stealth VR

The experience behind media and technology is far superior to the content and/or platform that delivers it. From movie theatres to a Netflix binge, the feelings drawn from any event create an overall essence that sticks with you far beyond its duration. You know how that one movie still makes you cry even though you’ve seen it 100 times…or the pride you feel anytime you think about your favorite team winning a title months, years, and even decades later? Those are experiences.

It’s arguable that our current state of media affairs is one that is oversaturated with content. Now here comes virtual reality – offering up unique, immersing experiences with some futuristic headpiece. But how are we to know that it’s not just another flash in the pan?

The ticket to VR’s success lies in the research necessary in creating worthwhile, sustainable experiences through story.

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VR is currently in a mysterious stage where the allure and fascination of consumers certainly exists…but developers are still working out the technical kinks and creators are still asking themselves how to tell a story when the audience is cognitively transported into the story world.

Stealth VR is a sense of craftiness in the development of content, built specifically for the VR medium. It begins with an understanding that technology will always change – but human fundamentals do not. Creating VR content requires an approach in understanding the natural human drivers of behavior, connection, and emotion .

I’ve never cared too strongly about the bells and whistles of technology. If it doesn’t appeal to me – I’m out. What does matter is the experience sung to me; what it gives me emotionally. Stealth VR is a concept that gets away from uniform visions of content development, and instead, becomes a conduit to a greater sustainable experience. This can come in the form of stronger connections to the media subjects, a community, social cause and advocacy, newfound values, etc. Whatever the intended aim of the project is, VR has the power to enhance affiliations and inspire new ones through empathy.

Regardless of the genre, there are critical psychological and experiential issues that impact VR. For starters – know your audience. Build the personas. Know the User’s needs, goals, expectations, etc. Doing so sets the stage for a human and activity centered design for any immersive experience.

As for the sport experience, VR should be meant to augment and boost the emotional connection of fans by going beyond premium seating or traditional home viewing. Get people to the places they want to go. Produce something novel that will stick. A short term experience for a longterm affect.

Do those things, and the results can have many positive outcomes such as empathy, emotional well-being, and a stronger sense of belonging. {For more elaboration of VR and live sports, check out this overview of a study conducted on the efficacy of using VR to consume live sports – Virtual Fandemonium.}

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Digital Hollywood Spring 2016 Panelists: Dr. Jerri Lynn Hogg, Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Dr. Shane Pase, Tunisha Singleton MA, Linda Durnell MA

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