I’m racing through the crowds in a broken-down village, flanked by children on either side. Spinning around in my office chair I change the angle to reveal a young boy holding a camera out in front of him as he races down the street. Despite all the terror he’s already experienced at such a young age he’s smiling.
That’s just one touching moment of The New York Time’s new virtual reality report, The Displaced, which it released this week. Print subscribers will also receive a free copy of Google Cardboard with their Sunday edition this weekend, but anyone can download the NYT VR app right now on Android or iOS and experience the current refugee crisis through the eyes of the children it’s affected the most.
In another scene I ride in a small boat through an African swamp with Chuol, a young South Sudanese refugee who narrowly escaped a violent civil war. A moment later I’m on the back of a truck filled with Syrian girls who escaped into Lebanon as they remember the toys they left behind at home.
The Displaced is a gripping 11 minutes that shows the potential of virtual reality like nothing else I’ve ever seen before (including all those awesome VR video games). It also points out some of Cardboard’s limitations, including double vision and a strapless design that will give your arms a workout if you watch the entire video at once. But despite a few technical limitations, it’s definitely worth checking out the first video produced for NYT VR, and we can’t wait to see what The Times does next.