Virtual reality documentaries and the illusion of presence

Eric Studt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I argue that virtual reality (VR) documentaries mandate that users employ a fictional attitude toward their presence in a virtual environment (VE) for the purpose of engaging with nonfictional content. The most salient feature of VR is that VR users typically feel as though their bodies were present in a VE. This paper explores presence in VR as a perceptual illusion facilitated by certain technological features. Drawing on Kendall Walton’s concept of fiction, I argue that the illusion of presence in VR also requires a fictional attitude that VR users employ when imagining themselves in a VE. In the case of VR documentaries, while users’ attitude in regards to the feeling of presence is best characterized as make-belief, they nevertheless employ an attitude of belief in regards to the content of the documentary and accept this content as nonfictional.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages12
JournalStudies in Documentary Film
Issue number2
Early online date12 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Virtual reality
  • Nonfiction
  • Fiction
  • Documentary
  • Presence
  • Illusion


Dive into the research topics of 'Virtual reality documentaries and the illusion of presence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this