IM/MATERIAL EVENT #3: VR, IMMERSION, AND NARRATIVE
4 October 2019, 14:00-17:00
Sir Alwyn Williams Building, University of Glasgow
Video games have long been used to tell stories, and the medium offers unique affordances for doing so. From the emergent narratives of titles such as Journey (thatgamecompany, 2012) and No Man’s Sky (Hello Games, 2016) to the meticulously crafted stories of Firewatch (Campo Santo, 2016) and What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow, 2017), games are often said to offer immersive and interactive storytelling opportunities. However, games also present unique challenges for storytellers, challenges that relate to these very same properties.
Players, fully immersed in a game world with which they may interact at will, are empowered to wrest authorial control from the game’s designers and writers. The author of a novel may assume that the reader will encounter the story in the order intended, but this is not the case in a game where the player may explore the world at will. The director of a film may frame a camera shot to ensure that key narrative beats are granted the necessary on-screen prominence, but this is not a given where the player enjoys control over the in-game camera.
For VR games, many of these issues are exacerbated, and further challenges and concerns begin to emerge. How immersive an experience can a VR game offer if the player character’s movement is limited to teleporting from one spot to another? Does current-generation hardware offer sufficient fidelity when it comes to interacting with the game world? Should we be concerned about the accessibility of VR, particularly as the technology begins to be used more widely in education?
These are some of the questions we aim to tackle here.
Jon King (Sony, London Studio – Blood & Truth)
Rhoda Ellis (University of Dundee)
Chris McLaughlin (Moon Mode)
Mal Abbas (Biome Collective)
Matthew Barr (University of Glasgow, British DiGRA)