VR Story Review: Congo: Empowered by Light

The Virtual Reality Storytelling Organization, StoryUp is a group of filmmakers, videographers, and storytellers who create exceptional storytelling experiences for virtual reality. You can learn more about StoryUp and it’s creators here. The company’s stories have made themselves unique in comparison to others due to their strong use of empathy in their videos. The stories that are being told make the viewer feel very empathetic to the environment or surroundings that they have been placed in.

Photo by: StoryUp

 StoryUp has produced many types of virtual reality videos that can focus on positive brain control, empathy, and mindfulness. One video in particular seemed exceptionally moving compared to others was the empathy driven Virtual Reality story titled Congo: Empowered By Light

This story was about the lack of energy for Park Rangers at Virguna National Park in Congo. They are among 1.3 billion worldwide that lack electricity. The video describes the hardships that the people of Virguna struggle with daily due to energy poverty. This storytelling experience grabbed the viewer’s attention straight from the beginning and made the viewer completely immersed for the entirety of the video. The use of empathy for this video is what made this story of influential to others. The beginning text of “Are you Listening?” with a powerful voiceover in the background immediately made the viewer listen. As you continue in the story, the video puts you inside the environment of the national park and what it is like to live in their conditions. Perhaps the most powerful scene throughout the story would be the women inside her hut, trying to prepare food in the dark with only a small flame. You were able to feel like you were sitting right next to the woman by the fire and feel the struggles that she was facing.

Photo by: StoryUp

The structure of this story has a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning shot asked the viewers “are you listening?’ and then the story dived into what life was like in Virguna National Park and the issues that Congo was facing. At the end of the story, the title “yes I’m listening” appears on the screen as well as information about how Empowered by Light has been a helping hang to the national park in efforts to bring economic growth and environmental sustainability to the Virguna National Park in Congo. It was interesting to see how the video started with a question and the end of the story answered that same question.

Photo by: StoryUp

This Virtual Reality story was a location and experience driven video. The topic of importance for the story was the area of Virguna National Park in Congo and how they were experiencing energy poverty. The experience aspect of the story the storytellers wanted to provoke was so that the viewer could experience empathy for these people and be able to immerse themselves into the environment at the national park. Empathy is a great tool to use when you are telling a story that needs empathy. When a viewer feels like they are in the situation with the story characters, they will evoke emotions of empathy and compassion.

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