How you can help create VR for social good


Digital Arts | 09 May 17

Image: iStock

It's still early days for virtual reality, but it's clear that the medium is capable of doing more than entertaining us with rail shooters, scary theme park rides and giving us a psychedelic peek of just what its like to be in Reggie Watts' head – great fun though those thing are. VR can be used for social good, and a new site – VRTogether – aims to bring together creatives, agencies, charities, NGOs and others to collaborate and showcase their projects.

If you produce VR content – or are interested in producing or commissioning it – you can find out about VRTogether at vrtogether.org

We’ve covered many projects that aim to use virtual reality to help people. This can be as simple has giving VR headsets to people undergoing chemotherapy – so the immersive experiences help them ignore the side-effects to the treatments – or much more complex projects that where the content of experience is inherent in what it does, such as helping PTSD sufferers relive the experiences that triggered the condition in a safe environments. Away from the medical, the award-winning Field Trip To Mars helped educate children about what being on Mars would be like – replacing the headsets of most VR experiences with a whole bus with screens for windows.

VRTogether was founded by Daryl Atkins, creative director at one of the UK’s leading VR production houses, Rewind – which has created VR projects for the likes of the BBC, Red Bull and Jaguar.

"Virtual Reality technology provides a compelling new way of telling stories and engaging people,” says Daryl. “The stories that need telling the most are often the most difficult to get off the ground. We felt that amongst the day-to-day commercial projects that helped create the industry, we had a social responsibility to give something back to the wider community. We’re asking people to invest a little time to create content which has the power to make a difference.”

Industry backing

There’s support from across the VR industry including Nonny de la Peña, CEO of Emblematic; Mária Rakušanová, director of VR and new media at the Raindance Film Festival; Catherine Day, head of AR/VR at m ss ng p eces and Sol Rogers, CEO and founder of Rewind – who are serving on its board of advisors.

The first project posted is for Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). The charity is looking for a partner for Tilikum’s Legacy, a proposed VR experience showing the difference between spending a life in captivity for an orca or beluga whale and living free in the ocean.

"Whales and dolphins are smart, powerful, and highly mobilecreatures, and an existence in a barren concrete tank, away from their family and with little room to swim is cruel and no substitute for the ocean,” says WDC’s chief executive Chris Butler-Stroud. "By using virtual reality, we can create an experience that enables people to see life from a whale or dolphin’s eyes, and can educate them about the sad contrast between life in a concrete tank and life in the ocean."

VRTogether is a great initiative and we’ll be showcasing projects from the site over the coming months. Or you can sign up for VRTogether yourself.

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