Virtual Reality For Social Good Campaigns – Immersive Journalism For Positive Change
The topic and subject matter of “virtual reality for social good” is a controversial hot topic and ongoing debate subject in VR, tech and immersive journalism industry. Many recent VR experiences that have garnered media attention lately have been tied in with causes.
For example virtual reality creative agency such as Specular Theory and established news media outlet RYOT News had lauched some effective social good campaign using virtual reality technology.
RYOT’s Nepal post-earthquake and save wild dolphins immersive 360 campaign had received great reviews and attention. The followings are some well-produced VR experience that aim to convey various social-related messages. Demonstrating that, immersive 360 video has the power to make a positive change!
Los Angeles and Texas-based animation and virtual reality studio Reel FX had partnered with AT&T to create a VR experience for the mobile network’s award-winning “It Can Wait” VR campaign.
In the simulation, viewers drive a car through residential neighborhoods and busy streets, stopping just before bicyclists, children crossing the street on the way to school and joggers – always while on the phone.
The texter in the car eventually ends up causing a tragedy, which feels so realistic that many people have attested that they now put their phones in the backseats of their cars every time they drive.
Venice, California-based virtual reality studio Specular Theory stunned and possibly shocked hundreds of attendees at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival with the premiere of their experience “Perspective: Chapter One: The Party” which follows the events leading up to a college fraternity party rape.
Immersive journalist and the “godmother of virtual reality” Nonny de la Pena (a speaker at ONA15), has placed viewers both in the middle of a terrorist bombing in Syria in “Project Syria” and in line at a food bank in “Hunger in Los Angeles.”
Many nonprofits and brands are realizing that virtual reality experiences can be powerful tools for causes. After all, feeling like you were in the middle of an event, experiencing the same chaos and tragedy as the person sitting next to you with their VR headset on, is a deeply emotional feeling.
Detractors of this technique worry that VR engenders empathy to the point where simulations that expose the viewer to a tragedy in a game-like setting desensitizes them to the fact that there are real people going through the experiences depicted. Even worse, does the entertainment-like nature of virtual reality make light of serious issues? After all, viewer’s reaction and the opinions are subjective and might be based on personal biases and preferences. What do you think?
VR Social Good Project – We Can Be The Change
Cause-related VR delivers a powerful and immense message and can act as a moving call to action. However, its true effects on society and behavior have yet to be known. In our humble opinion, we’d say to us, these social cause and VR for social good projects had a lasting positive effects!
For example, it made us think twice before driving too fast and using cellphone while on the road. We are looking forward to see more social VR projects in the future!