#1087: IndieWire Editor Eric Kohn on Deepening Critical Discourse within VR & Immersive Storytelling

Eric Kohn has been a professional film critic for 15 years, and he’s currently the Executive Editor at Indiewire, the Vice President of Editorial Strategy, as well as the co-host of IndieWire’s Screen Talk podcast. IndieWire first launched on July 15, 1996 as an email newsletter during festivals like Sundance in order to cover the business of independent film as well as the latest evolutions within the craft of storytelling. Kohn grew up playing open world games and has long held an interest in emerging forms of immersive, interactive, and social forms of storytelling. More recently, he’s been paying more attention to covering the immersive stories at festivals like SXSW as shown in his last article on VR “5 Masterful XR Experiences That Prove the Future of the Art Form Has Arrived”. He’s also interested in cover some of the business angles including this piece “Sundance Helped Launch the Metaverse Industry, but Isn’t Thrilled About the Future of the Business”

Kohn also teaches film criticism at NYU (Course CINE-UT 600), and has lead a number of different initiatives to help cultivate the next generation of film criticism. I was really curious to hear his thoughts about the level of critical discourse within the VR industry around immersive stories, and he compared the ecosystem of discourse to be very similar to smaller niche film communities like experimental film where critics may also be creators and friends with other makers. So there’s a lot of room for continued development and evolving of a broader and more diverse ecosystem of discourse within the context of XR storytelling. I suspect that this will requires a fusion of different design disciplines and critical frameworks from literature, film, videos games, interactive web stories, social media platforms, theater, architecture, and VR, AR, and immersive theater.

Kohn and I had a chance to reflect on all of these new frontiers of immersive storytelling, and talk about the need to facilitate more interdisciplinary conversations like this to help provide insights and resources to both creators and emerging critics of these new fields. There’s a plenty of insights that are coming from these different disciplines, but also how XR could potentially provide new insights back to these other domains.


This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality