Nuclear Disarmament, Impact Fellows, and XR4C
January 31, 2023 / by Michaela Ternasky-Holland, Ray Acheson, Cynthia Lazaroff, Lovely Umayam
XR for Change (XR4C) is an initiative within Games for Change that focuses on how extended reality technology (XR), such as virtual reality and augmented reality can address real-world challenges and drive social change.
There is a wide range of applications for XR technologies for social impact — particularly in areas like education, healthcare, and workforce development. There are also new possibilities in using creative storytelling to create empathy, encourage dialogue, and shift perspectives, mental models, and behaviors. Exemplifying this is the On the Morning You Wake (to the End of the World), the award-winning virtual reality documentary at the center of a global nuclear disarmament social impact campaign.
This blog features personal testimonies by an incredible constellation of collaborators behind the project, inviting you to learn more about how impact storytelling and innovative media can be used in powerful geopolitical movements.
On the Morning You Wake (to the End of the World) (OTMYW) is the first virtual reality project that is executive produced by Games for Change. When I joined Games for Change as an Impact Producer and Creative Strategist in late 2021, I was tasked with the challenge of producing the wrap-around experience of both digital and physical materials for the project outside of the virtual reality documentary.
Alongside my colleague and Production Manager, Erinn Budd, we have navigated the challenges of producing over twenty virtual reality screenings, activations, and exhibitions in over five countries across the globe. It is with great honor that the continual work of our small but mighty team of impact fellows and production coordinators has reached thousands of people, from policymakers to high school students, with the message of peace and nuclear abolition.
On the Morning You Wake is a unique and powerful tool for communicating the urgency, and intimacy, of the nuclear threat. Many of those who have seen it have expressed how important the experience is for challenging the seemingly abstract danger of the atomic bomb by showing the reality of what it means to live under the shadow of these monstrous weapons.
Storytelling can help inspire people to act for real political and social change. There are many ways people can engage in the work for the abolition of nuclear weapons, including by divesting their money from nuclear bombs, calling on their governments to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and demanding all nuclear-armed states eliminate these weapons of terror—before they eliminate us.
Five years ago, I lived through the Hawaii False Alarm. I realize the nuclear threat is still with us and even greater than it was back in 2018. But we’re still here. We can still leave a world without nuclear weapons to our children and grandchildren.
The reality is we could get a warning of a nuclear attack at any moment. Imagine your cell phone lights up, warning you of an incoming nuclear missile, who would you call? What would you say? We now know that in Hawaii we were all calling our loved ones to say, “I love you and goodbye.”
It’s so important for us to share these deeply personal moments of what it was like when we thought the world was coming to an end. I am so grateful that On the Morning You Wake gives people the chance to live our stories with us and wake up to the gravity of what’s at stake. That our lives are at stake and the threat of a nuclear attack is never going to go away until we eliminate nuclear weapons. And that we still have time to act before it’s too late. We can all support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
For the average citizen, global security issues like the threat of nuclear weapons require confronting complex, incomprehensible systems that often lead to terrible consequences. It is easier to tune out or stop short of understanding these issues, let alone attempting to find ways to prevent or mitigate the harm these systems inflict. While shutting down is a natural and understandable human reaction, it leads to collective apathy, allowing problems in the system to carry on without public accountability. In a sense, art – whether in the medium of literature or the moving image, like the On the Morning You Wake documentary – can serve as supportive guardrails or teachable moments into these difficult issues, especially those that touch on trauma and exploitation.
Art opens space for contemplation, questioning, and protest that wouldn’t otherwise be available to people across different generations and cultures. On the Morning You Wake serves as a visual portal into the panic and grief of those who personally experienced the Hawaii False Alarm. At the same time, it shows their courage, resilience, and call to action to ensure it doesn’t happen to anyone in the world ever again.
To continue expanding the community of practice surrounding XR for impact, Games for Change is currently producing a best practices guide that compiles data and research from On the Morning You Wake’s global XR impact campaign. This resource will be published later this year. Subscribe to the Games for Change newsletter and follow us on social for the latest updates on the release of this groundbreaking resource!
Don’t miss out on these events!
- An exhibit titled “On the Morning You Wake to Nuclear Threat: Exploring Social Impact Through Virtual Reality” is currently open to the public until February 12, 2023, at Museum of the Moving Image in New York City, the first-ever U.S.-based museum exhibition for this project and Games for Change.
For more information: