What is a Verse?

Walking is part of the interface.

As media have evolved from oral traditions to digital interactivity, we’ve seen the rise of books, films, and video games, each adding depth to how we experience stories. With the introduction of augmented reality, old words don’t convey the unique experience of our new media – so we need new words to express the experience of storytelling in augmented reality: I submit the “verse.”

What is a “verse”?

A “verse” is an interactive, multiplayer application in stereoscopic augmented reality. Users engage with a digital world by walking around a physical space that is augmented with digital content, making each participant the main character of their own first-person narrative.

The Unreal Garden: A Case Study – Located in cities around the world like Dublin, Orlando, and Chicago, the Unreal Garden is a clear example of a “verse” in action. Here, visitors wear AR headsets to view and interact with digital overlays which transforms a physical venue into a mystical garden. This space is filled with vibrant flora and fauna that respond dynamically to user interactions.

A stroll through the ?

As users move through the space, the scenery changes—trees glow with unearthly light, flowers burst into bloom at your approach, and mythical creatures wander freely, interacting with their surroundings. Digital interactions are natural: using gaze, voice, and gestures, allowing every visitor an intuitive control over their experience.

The content in a verse is programmed to be both dynamic and adaptive. Designing content is more like creating a video game than rendering a movie. Users are presented choices, and depending on their inputs, the story evolves in different and unique ways. This ensures that no two visits are the same, with each journey shaped by the visitor’s choices and interactions.

Content in a verse can be synced between visitors to create a shared, collaborative experience or set to private for a more personal exploration. This flexibility allows for a range of experiences, from shared adventures with friends to solitary quests through this digital landscape. And like a silent disco, multiple digital realities can coexist in the same space, each tailored to individual preferences and actions, creating novel social interactions where some elements of a space are shared, and some elements of a space are hidden from multiple participants.

The core loop of a verse echoes the fundamental human experience of our hunter-gatherer ancestors: search and discovery. The primary activity in a verse is walking and exploration. The environment encourages a constant loop of curiosity, rewarding observation with visual and auditory feedback that enhances the sense of wonder.

Marshall McLuhan famously said:
“The medium is the message.”

Do you agree?

How will traditional stories evolve in this new medium? Will this medium unlock the telling of new stories? What story would you tell in a verse?

Want to see for yourself what a verse looks like? Check out versechicago.com or visit any of our Verse Immersive locations around the world.

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