Ashika Chauhan
Ashika Chauhan 7 September 2017

A new age of online storytelling?

The advent of virtual reality has enabled us to push the boundaries of online storytelling, allowing us to produce truly captivating content and inspiring consumers to transport themselves to whole new worlds.

After years of hype about what VR could and couldn’t do, the launch of Oculus Rift revived the industry and has been quickly followed by the likes of HTC Vive, Microsoft Hololens and Playstation VR. However, it’s not these devices that have actually brought VR to the masses, instead the now ubiquitous smartphone partnered up with the likes of Google Cardboard or even without a viewer means that everyone has access to these rich, immersive, virtual experiences.

Whilst VR storytelling is very much in its infancy, here are some examples that stand out today:

New York Times - From joining Iraqi forces during a battle with ISIS, to visiting another planet or climbing to the top of One World Trade Center. The New York Times have been breaking journalistic boundaries by using VR to create brilliantly immersive storytelling. Whilst retaining reporting by their award-winning journalists, VR adds a whole new dimension to what we all know as news.

Google Earth VR - From the Roman Colosseum to the streets of Tokyo, Google Earth VR gives you instant access to the whole world.

Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is promoted with this multi-player Web VR experience. Fans have two acts in which they are challenged to escape the enemy and immerse themselves in the story of the 1940 battle of Dunkirk.

Tabel - Google’s immersive live-action VR story puts you at the table of an exclusive restaurant. As the night progresses, we see that there are serious problems in the kitchen and a catastrophe escalates. The user is placed at the very centre of all the drama, adding a new dimension to experiencing the story.

International Rescue Committee: Four Walls, Inside Syrian Lives - Actress and producer, Rashida Jones takes us on a VR tour in Lebanon, where we’re confronted with being face-to-face with Syrian refugees.

Kia Soul VR Project - Kia puts you at the centre of their interactive spy movie, where autonomous vehicles meet 360° VR.

Pearl - Part of Google’s Spotlight Stories, Pearl is an animated, Oscar-nominated film following a father and daughter as they travel the country chasing their dreams. 

Whilst some proclaim that VR is the ‘ultimate empathy machine’, others warn that executing these experiences badly can backfire. As VR looks to establish itself, we’re sure to see more and more bizarre executions, such as Facebook’s show about VR Dating or KFC’s VR Training. If you are looking to create a VR experience, just like any piece of comms, consider how it’s most relevant to your brand and how it can add real value to your relationship with your consumers.

It’s such an exciting time to be involved in content creation and storytelling for brands. Brilliant experiences have the power to engage, educate and inspire audiences, taking us to places we never even imagined.

VR is set to revolutionise every industry as we know it – from journalism, cinema and marketing, to social activism and health care, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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