MAKING virtual reality games can help people process traumatic events such as sexual assault, concept designer Robin Potanin says.
She helped a young woman make a virtual reality game about surviving rape and found the experience “therapeutic, or cathartic”. Ms Potanin was assaulted in Adelaide 12 years ago, on the way home from work. “The process of reliving and re-engaging with this topic got us through it and out the other side,” Ms Potanin said.
“I think you can do that with almost any traumatic life experience. There’s people who are making games to deal with the death of a loved one.” As industry development deputy director at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment on Grenfell St, Ms Potanin encourages people to make games, even if they don’t play games.
“The creative process can take you on a journey that will change you by the time you get through,” she said. At a challenging and thought-provoking public event next Thursday, called TEDxAdelaide, Ms Potanin will describe how “virtual reality is opening up new ways to explore ourselves, as well as the world around us”, using the example of the rape survivor’s game.
“You start the game a year after it’s happened, so you’re handling things pretty well, but you play the game going backwards in time,” she said.
“As you go backwards through time to the moment of the attack, you have less and less control, until the attack itself where you have no control over what’s happening to you, so it’s really, really visceral and it’s very powerful.” While the game is yet to be published, it has progressed from the initial design on paper to a fully functional prototype in virtual reality.
The academy, which opened the Adelaide campus on Grenfell St in February last year, offers courses in game art and animation, game programming, game design and production and 3D animation and visual effects.
Above picture: Robin Potanin, centre, with students Jaysen Griffiths and Kathy Smart. Picture: Calum Robertson.