The internet age has its perks. You can access cat videos when you’re supposed to be reading. You can order books to be delivered on the same day. And your favourite authors can create immersive experiences that add a whole new dimension to their relationships with readers.
New technology, such as virtual and augmented reality, has paved the way for a whole new type of storytelling, and while it’s still in its infancy, it shows a lot of potential for the storytellers of the future.
The concept of blending storytelling and technology isn’t a new one. Tom Clancy, for example, founded computer game maker Red Storm Entertainment back in 1996, and his name has been attached to the Rainbow Six series of games since 1998, across eighteen different releases.
It’s easy to see how new technologies could revolutionise the way we interact with our favourite fictional worlds. Imagine if Stephen King worked on a virtual reality game, for example. With a mixture of traditional writing skills and an interactive platform, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
An early sign of this potential is demonstrated by J. K. Rowling’s Pottermore, which allows visitors to be sorted into houses and to access bonus material that isn’t available elsewhere. Of course, Rowling has a bigger marketing budget than most authors, but as new technologies become more widely available, the cost of using them tends to decrease over time.
Another popular trend is the rise of 360-degree video, which sits somewhere between VR and a regular video. Some filmmakers have started to experiment with the format, but we’re yet to see a high-budget, long-format production that’s been developed with the aid of a well-known writer.
Which Genres Work Best
The interesting thing about this new technology – and I have VR in mind in particular here – is that it paves the way for stories to be told like a video game, allowing the ‘reader’ to interact with the action. In many ways, this is reminiscent of ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ books, where the reader is asked to make a decision at the end of every section and to navigate to the relevant page.
But VR is much, much more interactive than this, and it also offers up the ability to generate an entirely fictional world. That means that fantasy authors can bring their books to life in a way that wasn’t previously possible – imagine a virtual Ankh-Morpork that you could walk through, or a full-sized replica of King’s Landing. Horror authors can get into the game, too – ghosts, ghouls and goblins are much, much scarier when you can see them right there in front of you.
Science fiction is also rife with possibilities, because virtual reality experiences can take people literally out of this world or show them new types of technology that we can’t even begin to imagine. In fact, it’s basically a sci-fi writer’s job to know about new technologies, and readers will soon come to expect them to lead the way when it comes to them taking advantage of it.
An Exciting Time To Be A Reader
For readers, the future is looking bright. We’re already benefitting from new devices – like e-readers and tablet computers – and audio book production values and accessibility levels are higher than ever. But we’ve got plenty to look forward to, too.
Of course, the printed book is unlikely to ever die out completely. There’ll always be a certain pleasure to be had from the actual aesthetics of a decent paperback. But what will change, though, is the ways in which books are promoted and augmented, and how authors’ words are brought to life.
We’re in the digital era now, folks. What a time to be alive.
What do you want to see from authors in the future? Let us know what you think with a comment!
About the author
This post is written by Dane Cobain and sponsored by Publishing Addict, an organisation that helps authors to develop their indie website to establish a brand, connect with their readers and to sell more books.
Many thanks to you Dane for putting together this post for The Scary Reviews. I’m sure it will be enjoyed by my followers as much as it was by me. Please feel free to come back again and share your thoughts!