We thought Option A had merit to it: there is definitely a honeymoon period when new viewers are so enamored with VR that it floods their mind. But Option B seemed much more likely to me. Whatever was going on felt more specific than just a sensory overload, and at this point we had all seen enough VR (and enough of Lost) that we weren’t losing our minds every time we put the headset on. We were feeling a lack of connection to the characters, environment, and in turn, the story. I started calling it the “Swayze Effect”.
Fascinating article about some of the issues in VR storytelling.
But I can’t help but think there’s something missing from this analysis. Part of the issue is that the basic contract between the VR audience and the maker is still in flux. People are not used to what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to consume. We have no problem connecting to character in 2-D flat environments like film/tv where there is no acknowledgement of presence – because we’ve had over 100 years of practice. But its learned behavior, not an inherent property of the medium.
So this feels a little bit like the equivalent of looking at the end of The Great Train Robbery and deciding that all movies going forward need to have characters perform an action directly at the screen, and counting the audience reactions as “proof” that they’re engaged.