This review was originally created in August 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Virtual reality has proven to be a valuable resource for organizations that want to help spread the word about a particular place, charitable cause, or social issue. There’s good evidence to suggest that gaining first-hand experience with a specific issue – even if that experience is virtual – can help deepen one’s understanding of, and empathy with, its subject. The Nature Conservancy, which is a charitable environmental organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, and whose mission is to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends,” has released THIS IS OUR FUTURE, The Nature Conservancy, in hopes that they can bring that same type of enhanced attention and focus to illegal fishing practices.
The premise is a simple one. Overexploitation of the world’s fish stocks is growing at an alarming rate, killing vulnerable species like sharks and turtles and robbing the economies of small pacific island nations. To help combat this, the Nature Conservancy partnered with the tech community to bring deep learning to the deep seas, hoping to transform a multi-billion-dollar tuna industry and ultimately create a world where nature and people thrive. By mounting cameras on fishing boats and using advanced machine learning that can track what is getting caught, overfishing might be prevented, and threatened and endangered sea life can recover without putting fishermen out of work. As an outgrowth of this effort, The Nature Conservancy and MPC VR teamed up to bring a guided film experience about both the problem and their intended solution to virtual reality.
THIS IS OUR FUTURE, The Nature Conservancy, takes you on a guided journey through a large-scale art installation where you can see the problems of tuna fishing in the Western and Central Pacific ocean unfold. As a refreshing change of pace for this type of experience, this is not 360-degree live video or gritty realism, but instead 3D models and artistic interpretations of the issue’s key elements.
Visually, THIS IS OUR FUTURE, The Nature Conservancy, is beautiful, with clean models, monochromatic color palettes, and majestic animations as you’re taken through the gallery. Audio is similarly moving, with epic music and professional narration by actor Kieran Culkin.
As you might expect, this passive room-scale experience can be enjoyed seated or standing. You will likely want to do the latter, however, as you’ll be able to take in more of the grandeur that way.
Control is as simple as it gets—there is none. Once you start THIS IS OUR FUTURE, The Nature Conservancy, the guided tour begins and all you can do is look around until it ends.
While there’s nothing here that takes advantage of the Vive’s feature-set, this free, surprisingly short experience still finds a way to be fulfilling, educational, and moving. THIS IS OUR FUTURE, The Nature Conservancy, easily meets its goal of educating and enlightening its viewers about the dangers of irresponsible tuna fishing practices and a possible solution to help solve the problem.
Score: 3 out of 5 stars.