Virtual reality breathes life into immersive storytelling
Virtual Games Try To Generate Real Empathy For Faraway Conflict
Project Syria, a virtual reality experience built by a team of students at USC.
“I sometimes call virtual reality an empathy generator,” she says. “It’s astonishing to me. People all of a sudden connect to the characters in a way that they don’t when they’ve read about it in the newspaper or watched it on TV.”
What Peña’s doing — using virtual reality in combination with reporting — is part of a wider landscape of video games being created to explore the news. And they’re called, appropriately enough, “newsgames.”
“There’s an argument to be made that games are perfect at getting at the systemic problems and challenges in the world,” says Ian Bogost, a professor at Georgia Tech.
He says games are really good at showing the complex underbelly of stories.
Take a game that he helped make called Oil God. In the game, the player controls an oil-rich region, waging wars and inciting coupes. The player learns that oil prices are contingent on all sorts of factors rarely mentioned in a story about the price of a gallon of gas.
The Sociology of Videogames
creating games to bring awareness to social issues for over a decade. The game to create the biggest waves was arguably MTV’s “Darfur is Dying” released online in 2006, in which players took up the role of a family displaced by conflict in Darfur.