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Making Noise in VR

New BBC Virtual Reality experience invites you to find your voice and make a difference by walking a mile in the shoes of the suffragettes.

This day and age, one could be forgiven for being somewhat disillusioned with democracy, but still, come election time, I always vote Click To Tweet

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As a woman I feel that voting is the least I can do to honour the sacrifice of people like Emmeline Pankhurst Click To Tweet

One of the reasons I do that without fail is because I figure that, as a woman, traveling a short distance to put a few ticks on a ballot (or even doing it from the comfort of my own home) is really the least I can do to honour the sacrifice of people like Emmeline Pankhurst, who endured and risked so much to earn me that right.

I also figure that if more people experienced and understood some of those sacrifices, they might feel the same, and we’d have much higher turnout rates in every election. And maybe VR experiences like the BBC’s Make Noise can help achieve that.

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Throughout the experience you hear audio clips of real-life suffragettes Click To Tweet

It uses a combination of VR and voice-activated technology to encourage viewers to literally follow Emmeline Pankhurst’s advice to ‘make more noise’ to change the world.

“Inspired by the suffragettes who a century ago spoke up for a woman’s right to vote, Make Noise invites viewers to find and use their own voice and consider what it means to speak up in a world that doesn’t value it,” the news release reads.

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The narrator – actor Nikki Amuka-Bird – encourages viewers to speak up as voice technology in the headset continuously detects and reacts to every sound they make.

“They’ll need to find their voice and use it to name the women that have inspired them, and to call out the objects that have oppressed women for centuries – changing the virtual environment around them as they do so,” she says

Every sound you make in the experience therefore has an effect in the virtual surroundings as you sing, hum and shout the names of these inspirational women like incantations against indifference and oppression.

The experience uses a combination of VR and voice-activated technology to encourage viewers to literally follow Emmeline Pankhurst’s advice to ‘make more noise’ to change the world Click To Tweet

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The experience is available to download for free from the Oculus Store, and will be available on the Oculus Go. It’s also being shown at a number of libraries and literary events across the United Kingdom. At one such event, Helen Pankhurst, Emmeline’s great-granddaughter had the opportunity to try it on and was enthusiastic about how the immersive medium really helped to bring out her ancestor’s story:

“You’re asked not just to look but to use your mind and your voice. I think that focus on the voice and your own engagement with it is incredible,” she said.

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Throughout the experience viewers also hear BBC archive audio clips of real-life suffragettes (Edith Pepper, Charlotte Drake, Charlotte Marsh, Mary Richardson, Lillian Lenton, Victoria Liliard, Grace Roe and Elizabeth Dean) explaining how they found their own voice, and used it to change the world.

Helen Pankhurst, Emmeline’s great-granddaughter had the opportunity to try it on and was enthusiastic about how the immersive medium really helped to bring out her ancestor’s story Click To Tweet

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Make Noise was produced by BBC VR Hub and Anagram. Its director, May Abdalla, explains that they opted to use bold abstract visuals to make playful worlds and mess with scale so that the aesthetics of Victorian England didn’t get in the way of the story:

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“In these strange visual universes the punk attitude of these inspirational women really stands out,” she says. “Each chapter represents the emotional journey of their path to victory; from frustration though finding solidarity and resistance. “We wanted to find a way to really connect the stories of the suffragettes to our lives, and the fact is that standing up for something when people are trying to shut you down is something we all can relate to.”

This article originally appeared on VRScout

 

 

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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 LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.

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