We’ve seen some promising early experiments, like Fall in Love’s voice-activated content, followed by more sophisticated endeavors like Jack and Liv’s dynamic relationship in Lone Echo. Debuting at Sundance, Wolves in the Walls breathes new life into Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s illustrated children’s book by having the story’s protagonist, Lucy, react to your behavior. You can physically reach out to hand her an object, and the way she tracks your gaze and responds to cues from you enhances the feeling of shared presence in the story.
By virtue of VR’s embodied nature, the medium cries out for believable character interactions, and developers are tackling the challenge in inventive new ways. The creation of character interactions in VR that feel authentic will be paramount to their success.
Just as the single-player games and experiences discussed above let us explore meaningful interactions with non-player characters, multiplayer projects open up that possibility space to be shared with our friends, our family, and even people we’ve never met. Disney•Pixar’s Coco VR is an excellent example of the medium’s unique ability to blend the creation of real-world memories with our experience of the impossible. Whether an experience moves you to laughter or tears, that emotional impact is heightened—and far more memorable—when shared with someone else.
When the social layer of VR overlaps with interactive narrative, your hybrid role as audience and author takes on a new dimension with the shared co-presence between you and a co-conspirator. Not only do you complete the creator’s story through the participatory act of your own media consumption, you and your partner write an entirely new narrative through your experience together.