Perse students take part in International Red Cross virtual reality research
28 Jan 2019
The horrors of daily life for people living in war zones was experienced by Perse students through the medium of virtual reality as part of a trial being carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In association with Google’s Daydream Impact project and creative agency Don’t Panic London, the ICRC have produced a short virtual reality film entitled The Right Choice, which puts viewers in the situation of a Syrian family trapped in urban conflict.
The ICRC is currently testing the impact of the film on different audiences to assess whether virtual reality could be a powerful instrument in highlighting the problems faced by civilians living in war-torn environments in a compelling and realistic way.
More than 20 Sixth Form students donned virtual reality headsets to watch The Right Choice before answering a short questionnaire based on their responses during ICRC public relations associate Ignatius Ivlev-Yorke’s visit to The Perse.
Of the film, Mr Ivlev-Yorke, who also gave students an insight into the work of the ICRC, said: “With The Right Choice, the ICRC has developed a new way of interactive story-telling. The experience gives viewers a choice in the face of attack, but in the end none of the options leads to a positive outcome.
“Virtual reality transports viewers from the comfort of their homes to the horrors of the battlefield in a visceral and powerful way. This film asks ‘what would you do if you came under attack?’ We want people who aren’t familiar with urban conflict to get a sense of what it looks and feels like.”
Mr Ivlev-Yorke said the Perse students had been extremely helpful in providing their feedback from viewing The Right Choice.
He said: “We are always looking for new places and locations to showcase the film as each setting gives an opportunity to engage with new groups of people with different backgrounds. The Perse Sixth Form students are at a turning point in their lives, with the big decision of university choice looming large. I would like to believe that a visit such as mine may impact the students at this critical juncture and give them food for thought when deciding on their future careers.
“We’ve had hundreds of people complete the survey. The reactions have been really powerful. People are truly moved and often shocked when confronted with something that usually seems so distant and is now up close and personal. Many have asked how they can get involved and help alleviate the hardships of people living through conflict.”
Mr Ivlev-Yorke added that the findings from the surveys are set to be released in a white paper in March.
He said: “We want to find out if this kind of personalised interactive approach resonates with the audience and has the potential to change someone’s perception or incite behavioural change. Insights from engaging with audiences about The Right Choice will inform future investment in VR as a critical tool to educate people and raise awareness and action for pressing humanitarian issues.”
Perse Head of Politics Peter Richards said: “We were honoured to welcome Ignatius Ivlev-Yorke from the International Committee of the Red Cross and help with the trials for the charity’s new VR film The Right Choice. The experience clearly had a profound impact on many of the students, bringing to life both the level of human suffering and the powerlessness of civilians in war.”