Queer and Trans Narratives in Virtual Reality

Media Coverage

Canada Media Fund – Fonds des médias du Canada: Body, Avatar and Gender in Virtual Reality [English] / Corps, avatar et genre en réalité virtuelle [Français]

UToday: Gather around a virtual campfire, complete with fire-crackling sound effects, for some LGBTQ storytelling

Queer and Trans Narratives in Virtual Reality

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Queer and Trans Narratives in Virtual Reality is a prototype application that I designed for my Ph.D. research. It is a narrative project which uses multiplayer, virtual reality to explore relationships between gender, sexuality, and technology. It exhibited at Calgary’s Beakerhead science and technology festival in September 2018, at TEDx Calgary’s interactive engagement zone in October 2018, at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in March 2019, and Telus Spark Science Centre’s Adults Only Night in May 2019.

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In the VR prototype, people are invited to explore a multiplayer VR world with a friend. Together, they interact with narratives of queer and trans experiences in STEM and engage in conversations with their friend. 

By transporting people to virtual environments that encourage reflection and play through embodied experiences, we open up new possibilities for imagining and experiencing the social relations of gender and sexuality in new ways that are inclusive and supportive.

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All of the 3D models in the VR world were made in VR using Oculus Medium and Tilt Brush creative tools, and the application was built and programmed in Unity. The design team includes Dylan Paré as the lead designer, Scout Windsor as the 3D modeler, John Craig as the programmer, and Dr. Pratim Sengupta, Dylan’s Ph.D. supervisor. The prototype design began in January 2018 and first exhibited to the public in September 2018. The VR application will be used in Dylan’s Ph.D. research and will undergo further design iterations through the research process.

A short video of the application’s visual design development: