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Towards a narrative theory of Virtual Reality - page 21 / 26





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The story-surface approach currently seems a promising one, but clearly requires

much more formalisation in order to be made operational. Explicit representation of

the whole surface is unlikely to be feasible except in stricly-limited cases, so that

representational and navigational issues will have to be dealt with.

In this view of narrative, the artefact dealt with by earlier theorists overlaps

completely in time with its display rather than preceding it. An objection may then be

that locally generated interaction gives no guarantee of the quality of the final product

  • -

    narrative as artefact - from a global perspective. However what one has to remember

here is the very different role of what had been the audience. By participating, the

user commits to the narrative in a way that a spectator cannot, and rather than

evaluating as detached observer, acts as engaged character. Thus their personal

trajectory is as different in nature from that of a spectator as participating in a train

crash is from reading about it on the news later. As is said of some anecdotes intended

to amuse 'you had to be there'. 'Being there' is in our view the defining characteristic

of VR.


In this paper, we considered arguments for a different conception of narrative as a

process and expressed our belief that a narrative theory proper to VR should borrow

from narrative media where interaction is predominant. Current narrative models

used within the AI community prove to be problematic regarding their applicability to

an interactive virtual environment. This paper presented a methodological approach to

the narrative question within VR and aimed at highlighting the needs for the AI

community to consider a narrative form appropriate to the particular characteristics of

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