VR journalism project: Interrogation methods

Have you ever been interrogated? Are you aware of interrogation methods being used to get confessions? Yes? No? Have you ever heard of the REID method?

Screenshot of the immersive interrogation room

We just released our latest VR experience. In cooperation with Deutschlandradio Kultur, we created a VR experience about interrogation methods. We exemplified the issue by using original audio footage from 1989 of a Stasi interrogation. The case portraits Uwe Hädrich , the last person who was imprisoned by the former East German “intelligence”. So far, the experience is in German only. It is available as an app for Android and for iOS.

In this immersive experience, the user is inside an interrogation room. As a secretary, the user can follow this Stasi interview in a passive role as a secretary in the room. Throughout the experience, the user will switch into an interactive mode, triggering further information about interrogation methods. The 3D interrogation room and objects inside that room are built based on original material.

The room is

One unique storytelling method I specifically like is the constant switch between passive immersive storytelling (following the interrogation) and the active interactions (triggering events by gazing at objects). That way, we avoided to completely re-stage an interrogation scenario and we were able to provide journalistic context to the story.

Deutschlandradio Kultur broadcasted two radio features on this topic here.

Deutschlandradio journalist Jana Wuttke came to us with the idea and we immediately took on the challenge. Jana was researching on interrogation methods and forced confessions and together, we developed the concept and the flow of the narrative.

Team meeting, discussing the latest version of the VR experience
3D artist Jens Brandenburg and VR producer Stephan Gensch

About the author: Linda Rath-Wiggins, PhD, is the co-founder and CEO of Vragments, a Berlin-based VR startup that creates VR experiences in collaboration with newsrooms (e.g. this German VR example with Deutschlandradio Kultur). Vragments is developing a VR tool called Fader which allows users to create and publish VR stories easily and fast. You can already sign up to try out the prototype. Vragments produced a first Fader use case in cooperation with the Center for Investigative Reporting.