Much has been made of the potential of virtual reality to enhance people’s ability to empathize with others. This is not surprising, considering that VR experiences can allow you to (almost) literally walk in someone else’s shoes, experiencing the world from their perspective. This can be incredibly powerful and is already being used to help people understand the lived experience of migrants, minorities, and other marginalized groups of people.
But what about our cousins across the animal kingdom?
In a new VR series, Hidden Kingdoms, currently under development for the Oculus Rift, I am exploring the potential of interactive nature simulations or gamified documentaries. This is a VR experience, somewhere in between a game and a nature documentary, where you can not only learn about wildlife and pressing environmental challenges, but use VR to view the world from the perspective of the flora and fauna being studied.
The first of these, tentatively titled Hidden Kingdoms, Vol. 1: American Bullfrog, is scheduled for release in the winter of 2019/2020.
Future titles already under development involve butterflies and a common carpenter ant.
Learn more about this project here.