Storytelling: The Key To Immersive Experiences

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Storytelling: The Key To Immersive Experiences
August 7, 2017

Immersive experiences are taking the world by storm for good reasons. People have access to more content than they could ever possibly want, and for overwhelmed audiences and professionals alike, immersive experiences offer a whole new realm of opportunities that are exciting to explore.

 

You can be the protagonist in your own story instead of just a passive observer.

 

These experiences are becoming more advanced and accessible than ever. But they’re much more than novelty headsets. The principles of good design and storytelling still apply and have to take on a whole new complexity to live up to the potential of this ever-evolving discipline. When it comes down to immersive, the success of the experience really depends on the quality of the storytelling.

 

The Significance Of The Story

 

Immersive experiences are powerful because of the degree of control they give your user. They’re having conversations with you instead of simply listening to what you have to say.

 

Usually, there’s a distinct separation between different forms of media, with each having its own set of rules. Immersive design is dissolving those boundaries and building entirely new space that draws from each of those disciplines, and a narrative is the element that binds them all together.

 

But when design develops in a multi-layered space, the environment and story need to do the same. That’s where things get tricky.

 

You have to create a narrative that feels user-driven from every angle while controlling the space from behind the curtains.The narrative has to be so complex that it feels nonlinear even in all of its scripted glory, ensuring the user doesn’t see the strings you pull to make the entire thing work. It’s a hard balance to strike.

Original illustration by the Propoint team

 

The Delicate Nature Of The Story

 

The narrative is one of the most important parts of designing an immersive experience, but storytelling for immersive is incredibly difficult. Bringing things to life requires words, animations, and interactions that support each other. That interplay just can’t be thrown together.

 

You’re not just designing superficially, you’re creating an interactive (and sometimes even social) environment...and with that depth comes a whole mess of complexities. When someone is experiencing an immersive environment, do you think they’ll be satisfied with just playing out a predetermined story? Of course not. They’ll be immensely frustrated because their hands are essentially tied. And as our friends over at Ceros said, “the shortest path between two points may be a straight line, but the most interesting path is winding”.

 

And that’s why the most important aspect of creating an immersive experience is making sure your story gives the user options. Lots and lots of options. Enough to give them the sense of choosing their own adventure while the story guides them (and hopefully enough for them to pay no attention to what’s working behind the curtain).

 

Tough? Yes. But when it’s done well, is it worth it? Absolutely.

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