A blog like this could not exist without a little help. Truth be told, I would not have been able to write anything worthwhile had the virtual reality community not been so unbelievably open, warmhearted and supportive. Thank all of you!
There, that just had to be said. Of course, this community extends beyond the inspiring discussions I’ve had or the conferences I had the pleasure of visiting. Many creatives already share their experiences on Medium, in literature or their very own websites—and their numbers are growing! Naturally, I wouldn’t dream of keeping their whereabouts a secret.
In here, you can find a small collection of my favorite English-language sources centered around virtual, augmented and mixed reality. I update this list is continually, so watch this space!
Those looking for additional material in German can find them here.
I consciously avoid giving you the news, as the net is already full of beautiful sites specialized for this exact purpose. 🙂
Road to VR
Road to VR are usually the first to report on news. This comes no surprise, seeing as the site has already been in the game since 2011—I didn’t even have a Cardboard back then…
British site VR Focus reports on XR and the immersive worlds. Their reviews are specially nice. Moreover, they are pretty much as quick as Road to VR, if not as big.
VR Scout is based in Los Angeles and has lots to offer in terms of news. However, the site also publishes articles about storytelling every now and then, which is why it’s one of my go-to English-language sources. VR Scout also hosts a podcast.
Upload was once a beacon for the young field of XR. Unfortunately, in 2017, the startup made headlines for numerous allegations of sexual harassment within the company. Their coworking spaces in San Francisco and LA have been shut down meanwhile. However, the publication UploadVR will resume. I appreciate them foremost for their news and regularly appearing background articles on immersive topics.
Voices of VR
“Let’s dive right in.” This is Kent Bye’s hallmark slogan—the daddy of all podcasts on VR and one of my idols. Since 2014, he has been talking to all sorts of people in the XR field, sometimes letting his interviews venture to great depths. He usually releases multiple podcasts throughout the week. His last question never changes: What is the ultimate potential of VR? Find out by listening to one of his by now more than 1000-strong interviews. Especially the earlier ones offer interesting insights into XR storytelling and helped me figure out which direction to take VR Geschichten in when I first started.
Beyond various articles, the site VRTL.academy also offers podcasts featuring different creatives of the field. These are especially worthwhile if you’re interested in workflows. Find more information on VRTL below.
THE site for immersive entertainment—from the theater to VR arcade—also features a podcast. Find out more about No Proscenium below.
How To Create VR
This podcast features interviews with creatives that focused on the creation of VR/AR experiences, with lots of storytelling topics thrown into the mix! You can find all episodes on YouTube and virtually all other podcast platforms imaginable.
Granted, many books have been written about storytelling and dramaturgy. For this reason, I’ve only listed those that deal specifically with storytelling in interactive and immersive media.
Crafting Stories for Virtual Reality
Melissa Bosworth & Lakshmi Sarah, Routledge, 2018. As of yet, this is one of my favorite books, as it discusses precisely my area of interest: how does one create a good story in VR and 360 degrees? The authors progress through a series of projects from the last couple of years while interviewing their creators along the way. For every project—and this is the bee’s knees (!)—they create these little takeaways for storytellers on their journey: what exactly did this project teach us about storytelling in VR?
Storytelling for Virtual Reality
John Bucher, Routledge, 2017. Going by the name, this book was made for me! In Storytelling for Virtual Reality, the author conducts and publishes numerous interviews with practitioners from the VR scene. Unfortunately, my reading slowed down after a certain point, as things get quite tedious and theoretical then. However, I haven’t stopped completely and will keep you posted. On the bright side, the chapter titles sound very enticing.
Virtual Reality Filmmaking
Celine Tricart, Routledge, 2018. A wonderful book for all those seeking more practical insights into shooting in 360 degrees and VR film. The first half concentrates on technique (which, sadly, I fear has already become a bit dated already…), while the latter half focuses entirely on storytelling in VR film and is one of my favourite “clever books” about this topic. However, those looking for interactive approaches and game design will have to turn to other sources.
Charlie Fink’s Metaverse — An Enabled Guide to VR & AR
Charlie Fink, Cool Blue Media, 2018. Among others, the author writes for Forbes Magazine and can look back on an impressive career in the entertainment industry. His book explores the issue of augmented reality, and includes an AR app that brings the pages to life. More info can be found on this website. It’s only available as a kindle book in Germany at the moment, but that might change soon, hopefully. While I haven’t read it myself yet, I’m already looking forward to doing so.
Emily Short’s Blog
This might be the most confusing site I have ever visited, and yet: those who seek shall be rewarded. This blog is a veritable treasure-trove curated by Emily Short, a game designer and specialist in interactive storytelling. Her site features recommendations for literature and in-depth articles all about interactive media as a whole—not just VR/AR. Attractive for all those wishing to dive in further into narrative techniques in interactive comic books, film, games and more.
Virtual Script (French and English)
The blog Virtual Script, written by Parisian musician and screenwriter Gerard Bernasconi revolves around—you guessed it—screenwriting for VR. Seeing as scripts are the backbone of any dramaturgy, I am absolutely delighted to have discovered this blog. Fatefully, most of it is written in French, although there are some articles in English there, too. Dear Francophiles: don’t miss out on this blog.
Agnese Pietrobon’s Blog (Italian and English)
Agnese writes freelance about virtually anything, holds multiple degrees in psychology, and loves VR: her blog deals mainly with storytelling in VR—alas, we could be sisters. Take a look!
No Proscenium: The Guide to Everything Immersive
No Proscenium concentrates enitrely on immersive and interactive entertainment in the theater, escape rooms, dance and VR/AR. I really love this site, as especially immersive theater is hard to come by, and one must look very closely to find out what’s going on in the field. Besides, immersive theater and VR/AR share so many similarities, it only makes sense to cover both subjects at once. No Proscenium reports on VR festivals, publishes reviews of plays and VR experiences, and posts an overview of currently running immersive plays and other events in the US. Certainly, I long for more coverage on European events—but who knows what’s in store? I can also certainly commend No Proscenium’s Facebook group, where community members exchange experiences and recommendations. Plus, there’s a podcast, too.
XRmust / The XR Database
The XR Database (TheXRDb.com) is an initiative spearheaded by various XR creators. The collective’s aim is to develop a worldwide database of the best VR and AR experiences available. The site currently features about 500 projects, with a quick and easy way to view the year of production, the crew and short summaries. This works especially well for VR film—games are barely represented, though. Furthermore, one can find out more on the publishers responsible for the projects as well as the festivals they have been shown at. By the way, anyone can submit their own project, too. The only drawback: I’d love to find more about release dates and where to play/watch the project, though that only means there’s room for improvement! Aside from the database, the sister-blog XRmust features great interviews with creatives, reviews as well as festival lineups. The event calendar is especially handy!
The RLab is a collaboration between various New York universities: supported by the city, it’s a coworking center, research lab, studio, and so much more. Declared objective: to ready New York City for the future of VR/AR/XR. I cherish the newsletter, which contains a lovingly curated selection of interesting articles about virtual worlds on a weekly basis—from storytelling to tech news. Additionally, you can find job postings and event tips here, although you’ll have to be in the area to really make use of this. Should you be too busy to consume all of the media mentioned above, you should at least subscribe to this newsletter!
CEFIMA, the “Centre for Excellence in Film and Interactive Media Arts” is an initiative headed by the Norwegian Film School with the mission to give filmmakers and storytellers a space for exchange and experimentation. I have been a member of CEFIMA’s Facebook group for some time now—it’s a fantastic networking group dedicated to XR storytelling! Beyond VR/AR, the forum offers various discussions and questions about alternative and novel forms of storytelling. The center cultivates a very scientific and systemic approach towards the topic. I highly recommend CEFIMA’s own Wiki that features a large amount of recommended literature, various collections of links, and much more… A must read for anyone searching for more far reaching sources other than this blog.
Virtual Reality Pop
This online magazine, founded by Helen Situ and hosted on the platform Medium, is home to many different articles written by insiders of the sector, most of which produce immersive content themselves. While these articles tend to revolve around issues regarding development and production (often becoming quite techy), now and again, some take a step back, into more general and fundamental questions. VR Pop’s breadth of authors allows the site to offer a wider array of topics as well as more diverse perspectives and current issues than other sites.
VRTL.academy is an offshoot of Belgian agency Yondr and offers two types of content from the onset: on the one hand, there’s VRTL, an online magazine centered around cinematic VR and 360 degree content. Next to that, you can become a member of the “Academy” to take part in web seminars handling these topics. I quite like the articles and the podcast, but I have yet to try the seminars and thus can’t say if the (rather costly) membership is truly worth it. The service offers trials and discounts now and again, though.
The site VR Voice is operated by Rob Fine, a publisher who, among others, also published Charlie Fink’s book. VR Voice’s articles are well-written and, for once, have absolutely nothing to do with news. Pretty nice for a change.
The online magazine Variety must be one of my favorite reads. Overall, the magazine picks up anything in the realm of entertainment, including—besides (traditional) film—digital trends in the entertainment industry and the immersive arts. VR and AR are included, but there’s always more to discover anyways… The magazine is available in print in the US.