By Stephanie Riggs
246 pages, softcover, $34.95
Published by Beat Media Group
If you’re interested in immersive storytelling or curious about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), Stephanie Riggs’s The End
of Storytelling is a good place to start. That’s not only because Riggs provides a readable overview of the topic, but also because of who she is: one of the rare highly tenured practitioners in the field. Her large scope of work gives her a uniquely practical perspective. As such, she is at her best when she is discussing what she calls the Storyplex, or the set of technical considerations and narrative problems involved in the creation of successful experiences in AR and VR. That and the case studies alone are worth the price of the book.
Unfortunately, the book doesn’t escape a more regrettable part of the immersive storytelling world: its tendency towards linguistic innovation, obsessive genre categorization and ad hoc philosophizing. Her juxtaposition of Aristotle and Joseph Campbell is a particularly jarring example of this. Thankfully, she provides a good overview of the subject, including a history of attempts at nonlinear narrative. Best of all, she reveals her real process, which is far more experiential and enlightening than the theory that she says underlies it. Her ultimate argument is that in order to create great VR, we need rethink what we mean by “story.”
Perhaps those in the field should note that the Greeks began writing tragedies around 150 years before Aristotle commented on them. Somehow, they managed to produce one of the greatest innovations in artistic history long before a single line of theory was written about it. Just a suggestion. —Joe Shepter