Metafocus: Passive and Active Storytelling in XR – by Matt Sparks


Every immersive eLearning experience, such as virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree video training simulations, demands both passive and active storytelling methods. It is important to comprehend the differences and how to use these to create XR eLearning experiences and engaging.
Exotic storytelling simply signifies the audience watches (reads, listens, etc.) but doesn’t engage in any manner, and the actors are not conscious of the audience. The audience is really a fly on the wall. Storytelling signifies the audience participates in and interacts with all the expertise and celebrities. The audience is a personality. Novels and Films are examples of storytelling. Homes and there are examples of active storytelling. Video games may have elements of both, as can XR experiences. The difference is in the agency that is how much influence the outcome and the audience must affect the expertise. If they have sufficient agency, they may not even be considered “audience” anymore. Instead, they may be a player a visitor, or the protagonist of this story.
An XR experience with primarily passive storytelling elements could be a normal 360-degree movie (as opposed to an interactive 360-degree movie) of a scene with celebrities who ignore the camera. Whenever someone sees this movie, if in a VR head mounted display (HMD) or onto a 2-D mobile device display, they’re watching activities unfold from a single point in space. Their agency is which direction to look. Play the movie again, and the same events will unfold in exactly the same manner.
By comparison, an XR experience which utilizes storytelling elements could be a VR movie match. A player can not only look where she desires, she is able to go around, touch things, ignore things, pick up things, speak to, or assist other players and characters, solve puzzles, make more, and decisions. She takes her time or is able to go fast. Further, she has some degree of virtual self-embodiment or custom avatar, even though only a pair of hands that are. The game won’t ever be played with the exact same way twice.
The storytelling frequently uses elements of the two. Passive elements help orient the audience, provide information that is crucial and set up future conflicts or tension in the narrative to be solved later. By comparison, active elements to create a feeling of existence, keep them interested and engage the audience.
Agency within a narrative dance
Is like a dance, when designing experiences, balancing active and passive storytelling. The founder directs a visitor around the “dance floor” (i.e., through the immersive experience). The visitor passively follows where she is led, but she is also able to move and spin within a region of the dance floor. The Same as in dance at which the leader and follower create the dance together, the founder and visitor weave the immersive story ” [The creator] sets up storytelling choices that are active the viewer will make. [The creator] will induce where [the visitor] will appear, what they touch, and how they behave in the space”
For instance, we may have a need to move along the story and occasionally to provide background information. We may want experiences to take place in a certain order. These outcomes are achieved with storytelling methods. However, we may still want to allow the visitor some agencies interact to explore, or fail. These outcomes are achieved with active storytelling methods. Luckily, in VR we do not need to pick between passive and active storytelling. We can combine passive and active to a single experience.
We’ve got many ways to create this dance and establish a flow of information between the customer and founder. Maybe all of the doorways in a virtual building are locked, except for the ones that we need the people to open. Maybe required actions could uncover keys that enable the player to unlock doors. Maybe an NPC (non-player character) could tell a significant story when struck. We could set a timer to urge the player. Thus, exactly like at a dance, the player has the agency move to appear and behave as she pleases, but only within a prescribed range that moves the story along in the preferred manner. Video games have been made this way.
Immersive experience design elements that allow designers to combine passive and active storytelling techniques include:
Locomotion method and variety (e.g., teleporting along a prescribed route)
Navigation menus

Geospatial controls (e.g., interactive maps, architectural design, doorways)
Cut scenes
One noteworthy technique borrowed in the video game sector is the cut scene, a seasoned section positioned inside or between periods of sport play. Cut scenes are recorded scenes which play between game levels, upon entering buildings that were new, following triggers, or when a virtual button has been pushed. The actions will stop and the movie will play for a few seconds to several minutes. They’re often videos with even or specialist star celebrities or animations. Since video game activity is highly-engaging but may not tell much of the story, a well-placed cut landscape can move the story along, provide crucial information, or entertain.
Like entertainment video game designers can use cut scenes though we have to be careful about jarring our visitors from their environments unexpectedly. We can use 360-degree videos as cut scenes that play when a visitor enters a new room, or to allow the visitor to see before interacting with an animated VR simulation of the identical atmosphere, as training immediately.
Storytelling methods and passive are vitally important elements and engage XR experiences. Since there’s no standardized way of mixing the two, we will need to constantly experiment with combining active and passive techniques within our eLearning training encounters. We’ll probably make some mistakes, and that is okay. We are applying narrative approaches that are old to some eLearning medium that is new. We’ll start to create new techniques to learn as we play with combining active and passive storytelling methods. And that is the hope and promise of using in eLearning at the first location, XR.
Additional resources
Allen, Michael W. Michael Allen’s Guide to eLearning: Building Interactive, Fun, and Effective Learning Programs for Any Business, Second Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016.
Bucher, John. Storytelling for Virtual Reality: Methods and Principles for Crafting Immersive Narratives. New York, NY: Routledge, 2018.
Gee. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Revised and Updated Edition. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.


1 thought on “Metafocus: Passive and Active Storytelling in XR – by Matt Sparks”

  1. Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.

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