Developing a Media Hybridization based on Interactive Narrative and Cinematic Virtual Reality

MarĂ­a Cecilia REYES, Giuliana DETTORI


While the media ecosystem changes in a vertiginous way, interactive narratives make their entrance in the mainstream distribution platforms and VR looks for its feature content, new media hybrids continue to emerge from the mixture of different communication forms, narratives and supports. This article discusses the evolution of a hybrid narrative form (that we name IFcVR) born from the convergence between Interactive Fiction and cinematic Virtual Reality. The interest for such hybridization arises from the communication and sense-making potential of narrative, and from the high level of perceptive and narrative immersion granted by virtual reality and interactive storytelling. This study works out a definition of IFcVR by investigating each of its roots in earlier media. Merging different forms of media entails tackling issues of various kinds. We highlight such issues, which leads us to identify the main characteristics of IFcVR: (1) its definition and components as a form of interactive digital narrative; (2) a shift from the authorial point of view of classical media, literature, cinema and theatre; and (3) the creative challenge that interactivity poses to authors, that of creating a coherent narrative development with consistent dramatic tension throughout the variety of possible paths determined by user’s choices. We discuss the effectiveness of IFcVR as a consistent and entertaining experience by describing the creation and evaluation of an IFcVR prototype, a short film entitled ZENA.

Keywords: Interactive Fiction, Cinematic Virtual Reality, Interactive Digital Narratives, Interactive Immersive Film

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.22.8