The word “empathy” is probably one you’ve heard bandied about a lot if you’ve read up much on this whole virtual reality thing. It’s a hot topic for panels, a hot topic for storytellers trying to figure out how story translates into this space, a hot topic for women working in this space, who keep getting told that women can SUCCEED in VR way more than in other areas of tech, you guys. Because empathy! Which having a vagina makes you an expert at. Or something.
Seriously though, I am deeply interested in empathy as it connects to driving social change. Immersive journalist Nonny de la Pena, whose “Hunger in Los Angeles” cracked open the Pandora’s Box of this most recent VR Gold Rush when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival way back in 2012, was exploring empathy and connection when she made that project, which recreated a factual event of a man collapsing in diabetic seizures from hunger while waiting in a food bank line.