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Virtual reality: a lever for raising awareness for humanitarian aid?

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How can we raise awareness of the world's great humanitarian causes? Raising funds is an issue in the field of humanitarianism and global citizenship. The NGO Action Against Hunger has just acquired a state-of-the-art technology, virtual reality (VR), with the aim of engaging donors and partners in a different way in order to ensure the NGO's actions in the field in the fight against hunger in the world.
Aa RV: a lever for raising awareness on major causes? This technology would represent an important new facet of the new trends in the humanitarian and fundraising field. It would allow the creation of real emotional triggers, allowing users to put themselves, for the time of an experience, in the place of an individual and make their history and identity their own.
This was perfectly understood by the NGO Action contre la Faim, which, after a first 360° video in 2015, has this time opted for a new interactive 3D experience for even more immersion thanks to an innovative collaboration with the smartVR for Impact studio.
Based in Montreuil (93), created in 2018, smartVR studio very quickly became one of the French leaders in virtual reality. The studio is notably at the origin of the game Top Floor, experience of vertigo in RV which was a great success but also one of the first Esport RV games in the world, After-H.
The Checkpoint experience: in the shoes of a humanitarian".
The proposed experience 100% modeled in 3D is a unique experience, which takes its participants to the Central African Republic, in the heart of conflict zones where humanitarian workers intervene with the most undernourished despite the dangers linked to political instability.
Under an interactive, authentic and photo-realistic RV helmet, you dive into the skin of Antoine, a humanitarian in his thirties, coordinator of nutrition programs in the Central African Republic. Structured in two scenes, the passage of a checkpoint and the follow-up of a child in a treatment room, the experience allows you to understand the difficulties of humanitarian workers on the ground in unstable countries while promoting a positive act of care that saves the lives of malnourished children.
To reinforce the immersion and stress of the intervention conditions, the joystick is virtually the participant's left hand with a mobile phone. Regularly, throughout the experience, the joystick vibrates to indicate the reception of SMS messages informing about the presence of militias in the vicinity and the danger approaching the pediatric hospital .
This immersive programme was delivered to the NGO Action contre la Faim after a long survey of humanitarian workers returning from missions in the Central African Republic.
The experience, offered during events or fundraising operations in the street, propels users over 7,000 kilometres away, in the shoes of a humanitarian worker where they often have to face and negotiate with the militiamen, plunge into the medical centre where the expressions on the faces of a malnourished child and the shots that burst outside are mixed together. The user cannot help but be touched by the disturbing realism of the experience.

The "When I left..." experience...

The aim of this other experiment is to raise public awareness of the plight of refugees. The script was written after meeting several Syrian exiles in France. It proposes to live part of the journey of a migrant who crosses the Mediterranean, in order to hope to reach the European continent.
Diving, swimming to the inflatable boat, and thus starting it, piloting it... being careful not to get hit by a cargo ship...
With "When I left..." saw the departure of Eyad, a young Syrian refugee who left his war-torn country for a better future. An experience that allows us to discover the immersive and emotional power of virtual reality as a media to create social impact.

RV content creation as a new empathy driver?

smartVR Studio believes deeply in the identifying power of RV. For them, this is the first time that we are in the presence of a communication channel, capable of offering the user the position of an actor rather than a mere spectator. By really living and feeling the emotions of the character he plays, he can project himself much better than with any other technology.
The use of RV allows the user, during an experience, to put himself in the place of an individual and make his history and identity his own, provided that the content offered to him is of quality. By bringing together issues that seem distant, there is a heightened awareness of the topics being discussed.
Sarah Mariotte-Tirmarche, who worked for ten years in the social innovation sector, joined the smartVR studio as an associate to develop a "VR for impact" cluster. This is what she defended during her conference of the Virtuality Paris exhibition. For her, new technologies, and in particular virtual reality, are ideal vectors for raising public awareness of major causes. It was at her initiative that "When I left..." was born, as she was keen to speak about the refugee issue from a different angle, more meaningful than what we usually hear in the media.
Thanks to this new form of narration, the user is no longer subject to a third party opinion, but rather to his own interpretation of events in an application that aims to be as authentic and realistic as possible. He then builds up his own personal opinion, which is his own, and through which he can look at the subject from a new perspective. The impression of being an actor gives him not only emotion, but above all feelings towards the story and the characters he discovers.
By taking into account the immersive and interactive features of technology in the creative process, stories were developed that completely embroil the helmet wearer in the terrible and difficult afflictions of humanitarian causes. Because RV not only has fun applications, but also makes it possible to create a strong social impact and to realize the difficulties of those who are too often ignored. If it also allows us to develop empathy, our ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes, it can become a new driving force for citizen engagement because, if we believe the figures of France GénérositésIn France, donations have been declining significantly since 2018.
Source: Action Against Hunger

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