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Digital Storytelling: The Birth of Virtual Reality

Digital Storytelling: The Birth of Virtual Reality


Dayo walked through the doors of Ikeja city mall and while surveying his immediate environments in search of an activity to assuage his boredom, he came across a merchandising booth for Wakanow upon which was inscribed “The vacation of your dreams”. Upon arriving at the booth, he noticed there were screams of excitement and shouts of laughter as people sat with headsets in front of a screen.
He awaited his turn and on entering the booth, he donned on his headset and waited for the action to begin. Slow music preluded a wet gush of wind on his face as he found himself in Jumeirah beach where he wind sailed, from there, he then proceeded to Burj Kalifa- the world tallest building, from there he was taken to Ferrari World where he experienced The Flying over Italy with its alternating speed, Italian music and some of the beautifully adorned cities of its ancient towns. He also had a feel of the worlds fastest roller coaster which made him squeal in excitement and then was taken to the music water fountains with its aesthetic lights and breath-taking ambiance.


Upon arrival at his present location, he peeled off the glasses and dismounted from his seat- belted chair, he then proceeded to pay a deposit sum for a vacation of his dreams for a two week fun filled holiday in Dubai.
This is the power of Virtual Reality. This is the future of Storytelling.
The definition of virtual reality comes from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. Virtual reality (VR) refers to computer technologies that use virtual reality headsets to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulates a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends disbelief and accepts it as a real environment.
As marketing communication professionals, the rise of VR will redefine our campaign strategies. Consumers will become familiar with immersive brand experiences which will require businesses to create campaigns that are more interactive. With VR, businesses will have the opportunity to tell a story from start to finish through visuals. Red Bull for example can use VR to engage consumers in one of its extreme sports like Mountain Climbing freestyle on the Everest, Airtel can use VR to immerse prospects in its most compelling stories of Airtel Saving Lives to enhance philanthropy and charity giving for orphans and Innoson can use VR to test drive a new series of cars made for the main stream public.


According to Sarah Hill, the CEO and chief storyteller for StoryUP -one of the early pioneers in virtual reality for brands, an ongoing research about how VR affects brain waves and how it has the ability to quiet the brain and induce a mood lift has us associating VR messaging with a happy and receptive mood. There’s a segmenting of stories on the basis of brain reactions like hope, joy, motivation, and empathy. People don’t just watch a VR story; they feel it. As a storyteller, that’s an incredibly useful piece of data. Story combined with VR is a powerful tool for calm, joy and empathy.

Examples of brands that have employed VR in their campaign include Volvo who teamed up with an Oscar winning VFX studio and Google to release the Volvo Reality app along with a branded Volvo VR viewer kit so users could take the Volvo XC90 for a breath-taking test drive in the mountains. This paved the way for Toyota and Fiat following suit with their own virtual test drive apps, the medium is quickly becoming the norm in the auto industry.


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In 2016, Netflix took the cast of their hit sci-fi horror series Stranger Things into an elaborate virtual reality world so they could experience the horror of the show for real, their reactions which were a viral hit racked up half a million YouTube hits in just a month. Creators of 2016’s upcoming sequel Blair Witch also released it’s own 90 second VR interactive advertisement to a huge success.
Amaka Olukoya is the chief content curator of Purple Pens – a Content curation and Storytelling boutique.

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