Virtual Reailty Journalism Immerses Users In A Public Crisis

3D simulation lets users walk around and interact with other characters in the scene to help raise awareness about hunger in America.


Former Newsweek correspondent Nonny de la Peña has developed a 3D virtual reality simulation that recreates a real eyewitness account of a crisis in Los Angeles as people wait outside a food bank. ‘Hunger in Los Angeles’ was designed using gaming development tools and includes a body-tracking system. Users wear a head-mounted goggle display to fully immerse themselvesin the game where they can walk around and interact with other characters in real-time.

The incident in the game is an account of what happened at the Unitarian Church in L.A., where real audio collected at the scene were used in the game. The simulations places the gamer in line with numerous of other people waiting to collect their food. Suddenly, a man collapses to the ground with a seizure. As people try to help the man, another person runs to the front of the line to steal food. The chaotic drama soon fades when emergency medical technicians arrive at the scene and the game ends with the information: 1 in 6 people in America are hungry. 1 in 5 are children.

The project is ongoing and was commissioned by USC Annenberg School of Communications & Journalism. It’s currently on display as part of the Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Film Festival

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