Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Change the Way We Read Stories
It can be hard to keep up with all of the advancements in technology, and how that technology will eventually change the lives that we now lead. After all, what will our lives really look like in ten or twenty years? For years we’ve been hearing that artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality will impact our futures in a number of ways, but we haven’t exactly been given a timeline for when these technologies might become the norm. One thing is for certain: these innovations aren’t going to become inconsequential.
We’ve already seen augmented technology used in video games and smartphones, but it has many more applications than that. Virtual reality is also changing nearly every aspect of the world we live in today, from shopping, to employment, to healthcare. And books are not exempt from these changes in technology. Augmented and virtual reality will soon change the way we read a story, too. Now, let’s drive into a few of the ways that augmented reality and virtual reality will accomplish this.
When it comes to augmented reality, this technology would really shine with illustrated literature, such as graphic novels or illustrated classics. It could help the illustrations to “pop” out of the page and come to life in the real world. For a graphic novel, this feature could potentially “unlock” interactive storytelling or virtual games. Although adults might not be thrilled about this option at first, this might help younger people who prefer to play video games to read — or use their imagination more. As for an illustrated classic, augmented reality could add context to a story, similar to reading a novel’s introduction.
Virtual reality, on the other hand, will allow us to truly interact with the fictional worlds that stories create, similar to stepping into the ultimate movie adaptation of our favorite books. Imagine exploring the worlds of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings in a way never before experienced, where you could explore each world and interact with the characters. This could even cross over into video game territory, with games and quests (in addition to interactive storytelling). Think of it as your own personal Forbidden Journey ride in the palm of your hand.
Or, think of the choose-your-own-ending novels that were once popular for everyone and how this same concept could influence virtual reality storytelling. It would open up a seemingly endless world of possibilities for how a story could be experienced: Would the viewer become a real part of the story? Would a virtual reality story evolve into something that no longer resembles a story (in the more traditional sense)? This will be the challenge of virtual storytelling for all creators involved — it will completely change the entire process, so we’ll have to go through trial and error to see what really works end to end.
While augmented and virtual storytelling can be ideal for fantastical literature as opposed to literary fiction or poetry, there are other ways that this technology could aid unlikely genres. Think of a history book, for example. Significant moments in history could come to life before readers' eyes as they're reading a textbook, helping to keep students engaged with their studies. Or, if you’re reading the biography of a famous actor, theoretically that person could virtually appear in front of you, interact with you, and read the story aloud (like with an audio book).
Although virtual reality will soon present us with a new way of experiencing our favorite stories, it won’t replace physical books or e-books any time soon. And why can’t all of the different forms of reading coexist happily, anyway? We tell and consume stories in a variety of ways: orally, in written form, in film and television, and beyond. So, why shouldn’t virtual storytelling simply be another addition to this list? As we head into this future, let’s remember to embrace all stories of all forms — and celebrate this fundamental element of the human experience.