For 50 years women have been told how they should adapt and learn to survive in order to succeed in male-dominated industries like tech and media. They have complied and as recent news reports and research studies show, a few women have risen to the top of their field, but the vast majority is still under-represented and under-valued. Now is the time for changing strategy. Men need to see gender issues as their problem too, an overall outdated cultural framework that needs to be reframed.
As female creators, we’ve worked all over the world in male-dominated fields like computer science, animation, visual effects, and more recently virtual reality which reconciles our love of art, storytelling and technology. Yet, as professional women, we experienced our voices not being heard, our technical or artistic skills being automatically under-valued, having to become one of the guys or having to find a protective male mentor to advance our career. Even well-meaning male colleges do not understand gender issues because they never experienced them for themselves. This is their blind spot.
We want to use our voices to make a change. How do we start a dialogue with men about gender issues in the tech and media industry? As Virtual reality sits at the intersection of all the major male-dominated fields (software and hardware development, gaming, film-making and post-production), we believe VR itself could be the best possible tool to reach this male audience while giving women a powerful voice in this new medium, and inspiring more women and girls to be involved in technology.
UTURN aims to provide an inclusive and engaging experience to foster this dialogue. As a comedy, it allows us to tackle serious issues in a light tone. As an innovative VR experience, it is fun and engaging to play. As a series it will have a more lasting impact for exploring these somewhat subtle issues. This is not a magic bullet, but a first step forward.
Integrative Multiple Perspectives Concept
We started from the notion of a psychological blind spot, which one cannot see nor have access to by definition. The spherical view of virtual reality offers a new way of seeing the whole picture, an integrative worldview of different perspectives. From exclusive it becomes integrative. What if we could get viewers to discover their own blind spot by giving them the choice to experience different gender perspectives? Our design uses the spherical view of 360 video to integrate male and female perspectives in POV stories. Viewers have the agency to choose who they are at any point during the story.