VR Storytelling for Designing the Future

by Sheridan Tatsuno, Co-Founder,, San Francisco

My third VR novel, “Soulfully San Francisco“, is hot off the press at Amazon!  What’s the new twist?  A veteran creates the Virtual Fillmore jazz scene, his “Wakanda for real,” which totally surprises everyone, including the mayor who sponsors it.


For years, I’ve been frustrated trying to explain how virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) will reinvent our lives, just as the Internet did.  When combined with fiction, they are powerful new storytelling platforms to enable you to imagine alternative futures or metaverses.  Unlike 2D storytelling in films and TV, where images are separate from the viewer, XR is more like theater; it’s immersive, interactive and data-rich.  Viewers become active, lean-in participants who can create, navigate and analyze images and data in totally new ways.  For example, a historical drama on TV immerses you in the story, but XR enables you to walk around in the scene, chat and interact with avatars (real or artificial people), and pull up data analyses like “Minority Report”.

As a co-founder of One Reality, a VR startup in Sweden and San Francisco, we’re building VR models of futuristic smart sustainable cities and human cells (  Most people are familiar with fantasy VR games and movies, mostly dystopias like “Ready Player One,” but cannot imagine virtual utopias like the ones we’re building in the Nordics.

I’ve observed that with new technologies, most people lack imagination.  In 1993-1994, I worked at Stanford’s EE Department when the commercial Internet took off.  Colleagues could not imagine how the Internet would be used by businesses and consumers, even for something as simple as an online shopping cart (i.e. Amazon).  The same is true with VR today, so I’m writing this VR novel series to imagine and describe possible uses of VR now since fiction writing, especially science fiction, is the best way to imagine possible futures.  That’s why sci-fi is so popular among Silicon Valley engineers and strategists.  We plan, think and live in possible futures.

My first novel, “Virtually San Francisco,” is a comedy about the mayor challenging international VR developers to reinvent the City.  The developers create predictable, mundane ideas until a homeless guy walks in and challenges them to build a homeless shelter.  Of course, our intrepid developers add their two-bits worth — fruit juice bars, recycled fashion shop, solar panels and holistic sweat lodge — and end up creating a gold-plated homeless shelter.  Check out my novel:

In my second novel, “Uniquely San Francisco,” the mayor hosts another hackathon to finance the homeless shelter.  The developers build a virtual shopping mall, with Cal and Stanford using Chinese New Year’s parade as the venue to recreate a virtual Tang Dynasty with palaces, warriors, princesses and dragons. All goes well until hackers strike.

In “Soulfully San Francisco,” the mayor wants a struggling, but VR developer to build his Virtual Fillmore to showcase the 1940s and 1950s jazz scene in the City’s Fillmore District — the “Harlem of the West.”  All goes well until reality strikes;  hackers and investors swamp our poor founder.

Ironically, after writing the novels, I’ve met VR developers like the characters in my novel — such as a Swedish dog therapist and virtual musicians — so reality is often more surprising than fiction.   I hope you enjoy the novels.  Post reviews on your blogs and social media pages!

My Linkedin articles:

VR Storytelling: The New Globe Theater of Exponential Technologies

Gamifying VR for Science and the Arts (STEAM)

VR for Resilience Planning and Disaster Recovery

VR for Forest Fire Management & Recovery

San Francisco, January 29, 2019