Swoon Author Danika Stone: Forget Virtual Reality, I Want BOOKS!
The other day I played my first virtual reality game. In it, I was able to stand on top of Mount Ranier and look over the edge, I floated at the bottom of the ocean, and played with the planets in a virtual solar system. It was a very cool experience! I enjoyed each and every one of the virtual worlds, but at the end of it, I didn’t have the satisfaction that I’d expected.
It left me wondering why.
When I went in to play with V.R., I expected something more like what I got from a book. When I read, I tend to pause midway through descriptions to savor them. My eyes drift off the page as I roll a particularly beautiful phrase over and over again in my mind. A book is the starting point, but I am the end. Good novelists know this. They don’t tell, they show. I missed that aspect in the V.R. session.
When I stood on the mountain top, I had specific spots in the virtual reality session that I could go. They were highlighted, but beyond them I couldn’t go. It was good… but it wasn’t great. I wanted to know what was on the other side of the mountain, and I wished I’d been able to get down to the lake below. As it was, my path—my story, if you will—was already defined.
This is why I love books the way that I do! They’re the original virtual reality, and research shows that the experiences we have in books affect us in a real and tangible way. Children develop empathy by reading fiction. Reading can reduce stress levels, and can improve brain function. All of these are great reasons to read, but the biggest one—for me, at least!—is that I really feel like I’m there.
It’s reality. Virtual reality. And that’s whatever the author’s words and my imagination sparks it to be!
So how about you? What do you think of virtual reality and books? Are they comparable or is one better? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Put your replies in the comments below!