Narrative, Communication, and Virtual Reality Games: The Social Impact of Immersive Stories
Presentation by Sara Raffel
Recent years have heralded a surge of interest in virtual reality, with new platforms like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and cardboard mobile headsets making the technology more affordable and accessible to people. VR has myriad applications, and we’ve only begun to explore the possibilities in disciplines like visual art and storytelling. One thing, however, is certain. We as scholars must–like text, photography, and film before it–think about the implications of VR as a standalone medium. We can equate the design of online worlds to the design of whole societies, and with these societal implications in mind, VR’s introduction to the digital milieu needs to be discussed in interdisciplinary fields like games, media studies, and visualization, where we prepare the next generation of technology professionals who will design our online worlds. Please join me as I present my research on the intersection of narrative transportation, virtual reality, and social justice. I’ll show how non-VR games have historically dealt with social justice issues, then I’ll present the results of a play study that shows VR can be effective at doing the same. Finally, I’ll explore how VR technology and our ability to educate students about ethical design processes and, coupled with practical service learning opportunities, can be a force for positive social change.