This paper aims to provide an overview of the ways in which virtual reality technology is using immersion to tell stronger stories in a variety of fields. The paper will primarily focus on the gaming, social awareness, educational and cinematic manifestations of VR technology, however it should be kept in mind that there are many other important uses of the technology.
Paragraph 1: Concept of immersion and how it relates to VR.
For over two decades the phenomenon of virtual reality has been on the horizon. A number of my sources are from this early period when scholars, technologists and creators began speculating about the potential of virtual reality. These thinkers began to define the characteristics of the developing medium. In her 1994 journal article Virtual Reality: Venus Return or Vanishing Point, Kiersta Fricke offers a very early analysis of the potential power of virtual reality. She describes the immense potential for immersion that virtual reality technology would soon offer. Fricke argues that virtual reality’s ability to offer immersion to its audience has the power to fulfill a basic human urge that up to that point had gone unrealized, transcendence. This concept of transcendence, in Fricke’s estimation, relates to the ability to move past the constraints of space and time and to experience the experiences of others. By facilitating transcendence, Fricke argues that virtual reality will be an extremely powerful storytelling tool. Another thinker, Kathleen De La Peña McCook, in her article The First Virtual Reality, compares virtual reality to the act of reading and the immersion offered by other forms of media. Written in 1993, McCook’s work is an insightful forecasting of the transformative nature of virtual reality in how the technology would soon be able to deepen the immersion experienced by audiences. While these thinkers were excited about virtual reality’s potential for immersion, others viewed the immersion promised by the new technology with trepidation. One of the writers who viewed virtual reality’s promise of increased immersion with anxiety is Marie-Laure Ryan. In 1999, she wrote an article entitled, Immersion vs. Interactivity: Virtual Reality and Literary Theory. In this piece she sets forth her opinions on virtual reality and her anxiety with the new technology detracting from true reality.
Paragraph 2: Immersion in VR games
Paragraph 3: Immersion in VR social awareness campaigns
Paragraph 4: Immersion in educational VR
Paragraph 5: Immersion in VR cinema