Gannett Company and Des Moines Register have today announced a new project that will enable readers to experience a news story in virtual reality. Said devices will be used in conjunction with a presentation that borrows from video games enjoyed by millions every day. The project uses Oculus Rift to invite the reader into living the news story as opposed to simply reading a block of text.
Gannett Digital Vice President/Product Mitch Gelman, explained that the project is targeted at folk aged between 12 and 29, "who essentially are not picking up a newspaper from their front porch or sitting down in front of Brian Williams". As noted above, the company won't be using any specific game as such, but will be delivering an immersive experience through the game engine Unity. Readers can select icons to reveal new items to explore within the instance.
The aim of the project is to engage the younger audience in real world news through a medium they thoroughly enjoy – video games. The only downside to this story is that the Oculus Rift won't be available to the public before 2015 (though you can check out a 2D representation of the experience). We're sure Facebook (which owns Oculus Rift) would look at this project and see ways of integrating such services into its social media platform.
It would certainly change journalism as we know it today. How would you feel about reading about news through a virtual reality experience, as opposed to sitting down and reading a newspaper or watching appropriate channels?
Be sure to read through the full report on Poynter.