The Problems and Potentials of VR for Documentary Storytelling


  • Dirk Eitzen Franklin & Marshall College



VR and Nonfiction, VR and Narrative, VR and Empathy, Presence and Immersion in VR, Perspective or Point of View in VR


A primary goal of many VR documentaries is to foster empathy with others. Unfortunately, some of the very qualities that make viewers’ experiences in the new medium unique and compelling, including the freedom to look around, also compromise its effectiveness as a means of genuinely understanding the experiences of others. This essay explores the question of whether the VR medium may have other compensatory advantages for documentary storytelling. It does this by considering social and psychological differences between third-person storytelling, which includes popular movies, first-person storytelling, as in many video games, and second-person storytelling, which is a common feature of documentaries. A key conclusion is that, even though VR is never likely to be a particularly effective instrument for creating empathy with others, through special forms of second-person storytelling, it does have some unique and effective means of engendering caring for others.




How to Cite

Eitzen, D. (2021). The Problems and Potentials of VR for Documentary Storytelling. Cinergie – Il Cinema E Le Altre Arti, 10(19), 43–55.