Storytelling continues to evolve, including the ways the world shares its tales. Oral stories, books, and film are traditional examples, but video games have become a big part of storytelling and have been doing well over the past three decades. It’s no longer merely plumbers throwing fireballs or yellow circles eating dots. Now, more than ever, gaming as an art form is blossoming into a way to tell stories and deliver great experiences.
Versions of mixed reality have continuously come in and out of the gaming world, but the current landscape of Vive and Oculus Rift headsets is making a lasting impression. Here are two ways that MR is changing the future of storytelling, gaming, and other entertainment.
Visual novels (VNs) are essentially stories that are read and sometimes played just like a game. Using gaming consoles such as the Playstation or Xbox, you press buttons on the controller to retrieve text. On computers, pressing enter or spacebar has the same effect. Mario Brothers, Halo, Madden, FIFA, and Tetris are all well-known and global franchises. In Japan, an entire format has flourished around this medium, but its fandom isn’t as popular yet in the West.
VNs aren’t just text on a game cartridge or file. They often have other gameplay elements baked in, such as a basic Roleplaying Game (RPG), shooting game, puzzle game, or almost any other genre added to the text-reading format. Some of the best modern VNs are voiced as well and often include groundbreaking music that is sampled from other countries. This combination of narrated text, sound design, and artwork all come together to create a new form of modular storytelling, which means that any amount of words can be added to any story without the need for matching background images or animated cut scenes. Another benefit of the VN style is that it creates a possibility of alternate endings–and alternate paths even before the ending. Branching paths are a natural way to create a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA)-style game.
Hybrid reality (HR) is a method of overlaying digital images on top of a real-world display. Like a Head Up Display (HUD), it simply adds transparent, barely intrusive images to your viewpoint while allowing you to still see what’s ahead of you. In storytelling, this can allow artists and developers to bring their tales into the real world. Holograms can be made more realistic by sending images of storytellers or digital graphics directly to headsets worn by people in libraries or their own living rooms.
When telling stories about the past, overlaying images and videos of artistic renditions can bring history alive. Museums use this technology to enhance masterpieces. In addition, visitors to fields that were once rivers or lakes, or parks that were once grand forests, can now be taken back in time through MR headsets.