Michael Block of Culture Shock Games talks about his interactive documentary VR game experience called We Are Chicago about gang violence in Chicago’s south side. It has a single ending to the story, but there are many different branching actions that are dependent upon your actions and choices throughout the experience.
Michael wanted to tell the story of the dangers and challenges of living amidst gangs and gang violence. They started collecting a wide range of interviews with members of dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, and hired a writer from the area to bring in some personal experiences and tie the story together. They wanted to create an experience where you can witness and empathize with the hardships of dealing with friends and family members who are involved in gangs.
Michael talks about the inspiration for creating this experience, some of the technical considerations, lessons learned for developing a 2D and immersive 3D version, and what he hopes to accomplish with the project.
Michael hopes to see a lot more of these types of interactive documentaries, especially once the technology improves to the point where it’s a lot easier to create a more narrative experience with fully motion tracked movements with tracked facial expressions. VR has the power to put you into someone else’s shoes, and this is a really interesting experience that explores the consequences of making tradeoffs and choices around gang violence in the south side of Chicago. You can learn more about this project on the We Are Chicago website.
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Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio