The Evolution of Media: From Traditional to Immersive
Media has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past century, from traditional to digital to social, and now to immersive media. Each new iteration of media has brought with it new ways of engaging with content, but immersive media completely transforms the relationship between the user and the platform.
The Trajectory of Media
Over the years, media has undergone several evolutions, driven by technological advancements as well as social and behavioral shifts. Media started with traditional media, or print media, which was one-way communication that was controlled by media companies (often with their own underlying interests). Then came digital media which replaced analog and print media, which allowed people to access and consume content on demand. This was followed by social media, which enabled people to create and share content with their friends (and strangers) and followers. And now, we have immersive media, which allows the consumer to more intensely engage with the content by jumping into virtual environments and socializing with friends.
What is Immersive Media?
Immersive media is interactive, social, video game-like content delivered through virtual worlds. It is what happens when social media and video games converge, creating alternative realities that allow people to build virtual lives in online environments. It encompasses social video games, virtual worlds, VR & AR, and haptic devices. It also includes the concept of “the metaverse,” a vision of interconnected virtual worlds where individuals can create and participate in various activities and build a virtual life that is as rich and nuanced as their real-world identity.
The Rise of Immersive Media
The younger generation is embracing immersive media with open arms. They are consuming media in a new and different way, which is why traditional social media platforms are losing the competition for users’ time. Platforms like Instagram only capture users for an average of 30 minutes a day, while the average Roblox player spends more than 2.5 hours each day in-game.
Young users are not content with scrolling endlessly through social media feeds. Instead, they’re more interested in gaming platforms like Roblox. With 40 million games and new ones released each day, Roblox is as lively as any social media feed. Games also require more active participation, which implies that users are more engaged in these environments. This has implications for brands and companies who are looking for ways to market to younger generations.
Social Interaction in Virtual Worlds
Immersive media is also changing the way the younger generation interacts with their peers. It allows them to build friendships and connections in virtual worlds that are just as real and meaningful as those in the real world. The global nature of these worlds also allows people to connect not just with their friends from school, but with individuals all over the world. It is a place where they can express themselves, connect with like-minded people, and build communities around shared interests. A 2011 study by Yee et al., suggests that virtual worlds provide the freedom for users to explore identities that they cannot express in the real world. This impacts the way people present themselves, socialize, and engage with others.
The Future of Immersive Media
The future of media is clearly heading towards immersive media. This new frontier of media is rapidly gaining popularity and is expected to continue its growth, with the global gaming industry expected to be worth $321 billion by 2026, the outlook is bright. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect immersive media to become even more advanced and sophisticated, blurring the line between the virtual and the real world. It's likely that we'll see more and more companies investing in immersive media, creating new opportunities for content creators, and opening up new revenue streams. In short, immersive media is the future of media, and we can expect it to play an increasingly important role in our lives in the years to come.