Vosmeer, M., & Roth, C. (2021).
Initial expectations about the interactive affordances of VR were often inspired by science fiction and technological fantasies rather than based on actual technical possibilities. In these futuristic accounts of VR, interactors would have the opportunity to fully engage with the characters that inhabit the story world, in ways that would feel so natural that it would be indistinguishable from reality. In ‘real’ reality however, the actual production of VR has turned out to be considerably more complicated. To provide a realistic impression of the actual possibilities of VR, this study presents four widely acclaimed contemporary VR experiences (Wolves in the Walls, The Line, Down the Rabbit Hole and A Fisherman’s Tale) and reviews them from a media theory and communication science perspective. We discuss whether and how the concepts identification, parasocial interaction, ‘breaking the fourth wall’ and spatial and narrative presence can still be applied to these VR case studies, eventually aiming to contribute some rudimentary insights into the range of possible media conventions that narrative VR may contain.