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Towards a narrative theory of Virtual Reality - page 7 / 26





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Theatre seems to be the only narrative medium that actually allows the spectator to be

physically present at either, the elaboration, in the particular case of improvisational

theatre, or the representation or display of a narrative. Literature; where the narrative

representation is mental, and cinema; where the narrative representation doesn’t

physically happens in front of the spectators but months before the screening and on

different locations, can be regarded by the spectators, from the perspective of

narrative representation, as not being physically present in the same sense as theatre

is. VR presents a certain challenge in assessing the presence of the user with respect

to narrative representations in the sense that, as in Cinema, the users are not

physically in the presence of the actors, but on the other hand, have more possibilities

of interaction with the actors than in any other medium. The virtual presence of the

actors, through the immersion VR generates, is actually of greater value from the

perspective of interaction than their physical presence in classic theatre.

2.3 Conclusion

In Figure 1 we summarise the differences between VR and Theatre, Cinema or

Literature VR, with its real time interaction, potentially offers high entertainment

values. However, time and space constraints appear to be much more restrictive

within VR than with the other narrative media considered. These arguments

corroborate our earlier expressed view of a need for distinction and differentiation of

the medium of VR as a narrative form in its own right. They also entitle us to submit

VR to a thorough appraisal of narrative characteristics and compliance with existing

narrative theories.

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