There has been a debate within the virtual reality community around the validity of 360-degree videos, and whether or not they should even be considered a legitimate part of the virtual reality landscape.

What are the critical components of what is a VR experience and what isn’t? And how can we make sense of all of the different levels of interactivity and storytelling potential within VR?

Devon Dolan, an associate at Cinetic Media, a firm highly respected within the world of independent film, places VR stories in to four distinct categories.


One axis determines your level of existence within the story – whether you’re a character within the plot who is integrated within the story or whether you’re just an omniscient ghost who is observing what’s happening around you. The other axis is the level of influence that you have on the story and whether you have an active impact on it or whether you’re passive and have no real impact on the outcome of the story.

The least amount of involvement, which is the “Observant Passive” / “Ghost without Impact” quadrant. This is where most of our existing media and many of the current 360-degree videos exist.

The quadrant with the most agency, named the “Participant Active” / “Character with Impact” is where pure interactive fiction experiences like Facade or perhaps open world games like Grand Theft Auto might fit.

Download the podcast from Voices of VR, for a detailed background on how Devon Dolan created his thought-piece on “Redefining the Axiom of Story,” co-written with FilmNation Entertainment’s Michael Parets.