We are discussing a new immersive VR experience that’s teaching teenagers about addiction. Elvar Sig has transformed personal tragedy into an innovative and generous project, a tool to build awareness and generate conversations. He shares how addiction has been a force in his own life. He walks us through the VR journey he’s created, and what he hopes young people will take away from the experience. Just days after Elvar graduated from a BA course in commercial photography, he woke up in the middle of the night to sounds in the next room. He walked in to find his mother, who was visiting him from Iceland, on the floor. She was bearly conscious and the search and rescue training Elvar had kicked in. His girlfriend called an ambulance but by the time they arrived it was too late. She passed away that night. Months later, when he was starting his Masters study, the doctor called with shocking news: caused her death was a multiple drug overdose. She wasn’t the type of person we think of when we hear about drug addiction. She was a generous mother, productive in her career, and happy at home. Elvar had no idea how many pills she was taking until after the overdose. About 15 years before, she had an accident resulting in a slipped disc. She was given painkillers just so she could function day to day. Eventually, she needed another medication so she could sleep. She was struggling with leg pain in the days prior, and she took too many pills trying to alleviate the pain. As he processed this tragedy, Elvar began reaching out to others. People who had lost much to addiction. Although every addiction story is different, many share an eerie similarity. Elvar resolved to create a new educational tool to help people understand addiction. It would take them through different people’s stories, so that teenagers could see warning signs in people like them. Inside the Addicted Mind is a virtual reality journey through the lives of addicts. Once you put on your VR headset, you’ll be taken through what addiction is, and the six warning signs to look out for. You’ll choose one of three stories, from people suffering with opioid addiction, alcoholism, and video game addiction. Then you’ll become a ghost in their world. You’ll watch their story unfold in 360. The choices they make, the relationships they have, and the reasons they turn to drugs. By immersing the viewer in the lives of these addicts, she can notice the mundane warning signs that are too often hiding in plain sight. Material that most teenagers might find academic and abstract is brought to life. In this episode we also talk about:
- Elvar’s own experience with gaming addiction
- Inside the Addicted Mind’s search for a domain name and how it led to this interview
- The unique advantages to delivering this message in VR, and Elvar wants teenagers to walk away with
Here’s a short video I made when Elvar sent mine.