Shields Down: Emotional Space Exploration in VR

John T. Murray, Mark C. Marino, María Cecilia Reyes

Discover "Shields Down," a 10-15 minute VR interactive narrative exploring trauma and the allure of techno-utopian solutions. Step into the shoes of a character using The Reach, an immersive VR therapy system, to cope with previous trauma along with the loss of both arms. This innovative therapy promises to incorporates dreams, memories, and relationships into safe scenarios, utilizing voice emotion recognition technology. As the ads proclaim: You provide the voice and emotions, we provide the dialogue and environments for your recovery. Be the captain of a starship, enjoy the meet cute of real-life memories transformed into cinematic fantasies, all as space for your recovery.

However, the Reach inevitably malfunctions, leading to unexpected revelations and confrontation with emotional trauma beyond physical reality and beyond the one you set out to heal.  "Shields Down" questions overreliance on technology and the complexity of trauma, while exploring VR's potential in interactive storytelling. Addressing mental health, trauma, and cognitive diversity, this experience delves into the potential and limits of automation in human-centered fields like therapy, while it explores the role of fantasy in the process of recovery.

  • The following is a 360 video from the previous iteration, The Hollow Reach. A new gameplay playthrough is pending and will be posted here soon.