This article discusses some of the issues affecting storytelling in an immersive and interactive medium such as Virtual Reality. Interactive works which reconfigure their images as three-dimensional environments bearing affordances seems able to convey a proper sense of “spatial presence” – that is, the perceptive and cognitive illusion of being physically immersed in a digital environment, rather than in the material one which actually surrounds the body. However, I will show that VR technology is doomed to produce “breaks in presence”: moments which rise awareness of the mediated nature of the experience, shattering the illusion of presence, and which represent undesirable side-effects for the aesthetics of immersion generally promoted by VR works. In order to do so, I will use the VR game Resident Evil 7 as a case study. First, I will analyse the sophisticated formal solutions employed by the game to create a terrifying illusion of presence, highlighting their connection with cinematic strategies common to the horror genre; then, I will focus on sections of the interactive experience which nonetheless devaluate the effects of these stylistic gears by bringing consciousness about the impalpable and disembodied nature of the virtual body during the (simulated) physical interaction with the environment.
Bilchi, N. (2021). Directorial Style for Interactive Storytelling and the Fallacy of Ownership: the Case of Resident Evil 7. CINERGIE, 19, 83-92.