"Escape" is a virtual reality world that represents the hardships endured by people escaping slavery through the Underground Railroad. The audience experiences a sense of thrill, fear, and relief by living the life of Henry "Box" Brown as he travels on a moving train from Virginia to Philadelphia hidden inside a wooden box.
This project expresses the hardships that slaves dealt with and it increases the knowledge of viewers on how difficult it was to become free from slavery. Furthermore, "Escape" makes users question why and how people in the US endorsed and encouraged the inhumane practices slavey for centuries. For people of color, more specifically African Americans, the game raises the question, "when did my ancestors become free and how?". The innovation in "Escape" comes from giving the audience experience on being Henry Box Brown in the 1800s and letting viewers feel the hardships of being in a small box for a long period of time. While the user is experiencing this virtual reality, they are also enclosed in a real life box the same dimensions as Henry's. This gives users the feeling of being trapped in a cramped box to allow them to further empathize with the multi-day trek of Henry. The goal of this simulation is to allow one to realize the risk, and the mental and physical sacrifice Henry Box Brown made for freedom.
Escape is a VR experience that tells the story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped by shipping himself from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia, New Jersey in a small box.
Henry spent over a day in a 2ft by 2ft by 3ft shipping container with nothing but a canteen of water and some cookies, oftentimes upside down or flipped on his side. Escape takes the player through Henry's journey and viewpoint, starting at a tobacco factory where he worked, to the cramped confines of the box, and finally ending in Philadelphia. Escape is not only a VR experience, it combines the virtual box with a physical one, adding another layer of immersion to the experience.
"Escape" is a virtual reality experience of the underground railroad from the point of view of Henry "Box" Brown, a man who traveled from Virginia to Philadelphia to escape slavery by mailing himself in a 2x2x3 ft wooden box.
Escape is an 8 minute experience that begins with the viewer (a slave) walking around the tobacco factory where they work. This immediately immerses the player into the lived experiences of those who were enslaved. Then the player is able to escape by fitting themselves in a box on a train car. The viewer watches segments of the ride from Richmond to Philadelphia through cracks in the box. At the end the player finally exits the box to be free in Philadelphia. The lived experience of Henry was compelling to represent since it highlights the pain and discipline a slave must endure to become free. With the user sitting in this small, cramped space, they experience the contrast of opening the box in Philadelphia and the intense sense of physical and emotional freedom they feel at the end. The pieces were modeled in Rhino before being put into Unity. The view out of the train was created by cutting together segments of different train rides with landscape views changing as the user travels further north and a 360 image was used for the recreation of Philadelphia. The goal is to recreate the discomfort and intense length of people that endured harsh conditions to escape slavery that anyone with little to no understanding of the underground railroad can experience and understand.
"Escape" is a virtual reality experience that represents the hardships of the Underground Railroad. The audience experiences the sense of thrill, fear, and relief by stepping into the shoes of Henry "Box" Brown as he travels from Virginia to Philadelphia hidden inside a wooden cargo box moving on a train.
The project personalizes slavery in the 1850s and focuses on the real life treacheries faced by Henry as he escapes enslavement in the south. Players start off in a black room with text appearing in front of them describing who they are and what their life is like as a slave. Then, they are in a tobacco factory working as a slave, and after that another black screen with text appears, telling you to climb into a box that will transport you to Philadelphia. The project allows people to experience the personalized story of Henry to build an understanding of slavery was like on an individual level, and what one would endure for the potential of freedom. "Escape" is innovative as it uses VR techniques to mimic sitting in a box while traveling from Virginia to Philadelphia, yet also asks players to sit in real life. Therefore, you have the feeling of being locked up in a box and enslaved, which is what Henry endured for many, many hours.