While virtual reality (VR) can’t actually create empathy, it’s being used in a variety of environments to help facilitate it. Is bringing it to a war scenario helpful or alarming?
The International Committee of the Red Cross’ aim is “to find out if this kind of personalized interactive approach resonates with the audience and has the potential to change someone’s perception or incite behavioral change.”
Watch the 13-second trailer and think about your own responses. Is there a danger that this particular movie will be viewed as just another entertainment product by gamers who like to test their reflexes or strategy skills with video games? Will those who most need to learn some empathy be the ones who are impelled or compelled to watch it?
The film was shot in Beirut, where there are plenty of bombed-out buildings to use, and available ‘actors’ from war-ravaged countries like Syria and Iraq.
“We want people who aren’t familiar with urban conflict to get a sense of what it looks and feels like,” says the ICRC, which will be monitoring reactions to the movie to help decide the future role VR may have in their work.
What’s your reaction? Do you think VR has a vital role to play in helping humanity; or is a dumbing-down of our faculties; or simply technology that can go either way depending on the scenario and/or user?
As Hamlet said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
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