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Exploring a Wounded Mind in VR

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A BBC Virtual Reality experience takes you on an emotional journey through the perspective of two young women dealing with a life-altering brain injury.

Is Anna OK is a poignant VR experience based on a true story. Anna and Lauren are identical twins. For two decades these two young women were as emotionally and psychologically close as people can get.

You explore this story in Virtual Reality from both sides, trying to piece together Anna’s fragmented memories, and figuring out if and how these two young women can pick up the pieces of their lives Click To Tweet

But in one fateful moment that’s all turned on its head. Anna has an accident, which leaves her in a comma. When she finally wakes up, things are changed forever due to the resulting brain injury.

You explore this story in Virtual Reality from both sides, trying to piece together Anna’s fragmented memories, and figuring out if and how these two young women can pick up the pieces of their lives.

Is Anna OK? was featured at film and technology festivals across the country, including Edinburgh TV Festival, Sheffield Documentary Festival, and Raindance Film Festival Click To Tweet

Users explore memories, find clues in the objects around them, and generally immerse themselves in their day-to-day world Click To Tweet The experience is all told in the twins’ voices, using extracts from months of interviews conducted by BBC News reporter Camila Ruz. Users explore memories, find clues in the objects around them, and generally immerse themselves in their day-to-day world.

The combination of factual reporting with psychological exploration makes for an interesting mix, which poses the question of how storytelling and journalism can produce new forms of immersive content.

Two participants can go through the Is Anna OK? Experience together, and therefore see the two different perspectives at the same time, comparing the impact of the brain injury and resulting illness on Anna, as well as Lauren as she struggles to help her sister cope, and tries to come to terms with how drastically their relationship has changed.

What struck me the most was hearing Lauren talk about her anger and powerlessness as she watched her sister struggle, and the palpable and irretrievable sense of loss from watching someone who she always knew as well as she knew herself, her nearest and dearest friend, suddenly become almost a stranger.

The combination of factual reporting with psychological exploration makes for an interesting mix Click To Tweet

A BBC Virtual Reality experience takes you on an emotional journey through the perspective of two young women dealing with a life-altering brain injury.

Anna and Lauren’s story was brought to life by BBC Stories with the teams at BBC Studios Digital and Aardman Animations Click To Tweet

The result is a very emotional journey that highlights the complexity of dealing with mental health issues and trauma, and it opens up interesting possibilities for this type of content also being used as a support tool for family, friends and carers of those affected by such injuries.

Is Anna OK? was featured at film and technology festivals across the country, including Edinburgh TV Festival, Sheffield Documentary Festival, and the 2018 Raindance Film Festival, where it was shortlisted for two awards.

Anna and Lauren’s story has been brought to life by BBC Stories in collaboration with the teams at BBC Studios Digital and Aardman Animations, and is published by BBC VR Hub.

Is Anna OK? Is now freely available on the Oculus Store.

This article was originally published on VRScout

For companies looking to get into Immersive technologies such as VR/AR/MR/XR our Virtual Reality Consultancy services offer guidance and support on how best to incorporate these into your brand strategy.

Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedInand follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.

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