The Genres of AR and VR

AR and VR are still relatively new media, available to large audiences of users for about ten years, but current applications already belong to identifiable genres. AR and VR remediate other media forms by participating in established genres, while at the same time redefining them through qualities of 3D graphics, immersion, location tracking and sensing, and so on. Half Life: Alyx is unmistakably a first-person shooter in the tradition of the whole franchise, but it adds the immediacy of immersive VR, which gamers have wanted for decades. Clouds over Sidra is a documentary film, but, according to one of its creators, Chris Milk, it arouses greater empathy than traditional film by putting you as the viewer at the center of a 360° moving image. The Ted talk where Milk makes that claim can be viewed in the Presence Gallery.

Various genres of AR and VR are discussed in Chapter 6 of Reality Media and illustrated in this double gallery, including:

  • video games
  • artistic expression
  • documentary and journalism
  • cultural heritage
  • marketing
  • social media

Our list is necessarily somewhat arbitrary, because with AR and VR as with other media, you can delineate the categories in a variety of ways. But we challenge you to come up with an AR or VR experience that cannot plausibly fit in one or more such genre categories—an application that is completely unlike anything we have seen or experienced elsewhere throughout our media culture.

Enter the Genres Gallery.