Publishing in VR

By Manus VR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Manus VR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Virtual reality (VR) isn’t only for games. More traditional publishers are also incorporating the new medium into their content, and it’s exciting to see it all unfold and think about how stories may exist in the not-too-distant future.

According to Digital Book World, “VR could be the next frontier for publishers as a new revenue source.”

One example of a publisher using VR is the New York Times, and their Olympic Stadiums in VR, according to Upload VR. The project is called The Modern Games and it allows people to explore the Olympic stadiums in Rio as well as in past Olympic cities. To recreate past cities, NY Times pieced together thousands of old photos. The producer, Graham Roberts, said, “We’re always thinking about what makes something valuable in virtual reality. There has to be a reason that we’re making it in VR and not a standard 2D medium.”

I think this sentiment is key. Like with enhanced ebooks and other types of interactive content, there has to be added value, and a reason to try out the content in this new form.

VR also has great educational value. DBW also reported on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s partnership with Google. The partnership is called HMH Field Trips for Google Expeditions, and will integrate HMH curriculum. Teachers will receive guides, lesson plans, and the ability to integrate VR trips in the classroom.

According to the press release, current field trips include:

  • American Expands West, where students in grades 6-12 ride in a covered wagon through the prairie and learn about early pioneer life
  • The Florida Seminoles, where students in grades 6-12 canoe in the Everglades and learn about the Seminole Tribe
  • Natural Bridge Caverns, where students in grade 5 explore caves formed during the Mesozoic Era
  • How People Use Natural Resources, where students in grades K-12 visit a swamp and learn how people used to make clothing, buildings, and utensils

If it ends up being anything like Field Trip to Mars, then it will be awesome.

For publishers and indie authors who may be looking to get into VR, TechRepublic recommends Madefire. Madefire makes it easy to create “motion content,” where “[s]tatic comic book panels become animations, movie and TV storyboards flow smoothly from frame to frame, and text content can be augmented with images that highlight important words and phrases.”

Some authors have been working in transmedia for a while, and it will be interesting to see the experimenters working with VR, or maybe even augmented reality. What kinds of stories do you think would translate well into VR? Please share in the comments!


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