People 1861 (VR)

People 1861 was a VR title made for the Indiecade Oculusjam back in 2013. In it the player explored a stark 3D environment filled with columns with stereoscopic photos of slaves (living, working, etc.) from 1961.

As the player would walk around, they would trigger audio clips selected from interviews with former slaves, recorded during the 1940s.

This project was my first foray into VR design. It was also fundamentally flawed, which is something I realized years later, because it was basically slavery tourism. The tech was there to tell a story, but this story was just sad, and had no empowering angle to it. We gained praise for the title from Indiecade, but decided to abandon the project for numerous reasons. This is included to both highlight my long relationship with VR, but also to show that sometimes you get trapped working on a project that you don’t know is not doing what you need it to from the basic outset.

On People 1861, I was the narrative designer, picking out the audio clips and the photos to tell a story to the player. My duties on the game included:

  • Digging through databases, and listening/editing audio to tell a story.
  • Digging through databases and creating a collection of photos to also tell the story.
  • Playing the project, and adjusting where audio/photos would go based on player flow through the environment.