‘The Circle’ Is A Promising Oculus Touch Experience That Tackles Transgender Issues

by Jamie Feltham • September 23rd, 2016

Following the reveal of Into The Black, the National Film And Television School’s students continue to impress with the reveal of a new VR game tackling tough issues.

The new title is called The Circle and it’s coming to the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch controllers. It’s another project from the UK-based institute that’s on display at EGX in Birmingham this week, this time designed by Manos Agianniotakis, written by Jess O’Kane, and produced by Ser En Low. In it, you’ll follow Alex, a transgender woman suffering from PTSD after being the victim of a transphobic attack that’s left her in a wheelchair. Alex has shut herself in her apartment, and soon starts to obsess over a conspiracy theory that her family hopes to guide her out of.

The Circle EGX Trailer from Ser En on Vimeo.

Speaking to Upload over email, Agianniotakis revealed that the idea for the game grew out of increased reports of hate crimes against transgender people of color. “My fascination with the statistics increased when further research revealed that these high numbers of violent crimes may just be the tip of the iceberg as transphobic attacks may not always be categorized as such,” the developer said.

The game is both inspired by and uses Toynbee tiles, a strange phenomenon of embedded tiles on unknown origin found in asphalt in US and South American cities since the early 1980s. Alex will find a diary belonging to her father, who obsessed over these items. “For Alex, our protagonist, the tiles act as a promise of an existence where she may be able to live free from the burden of her own body,” Agianniotakis explained.

Ultimately the experience will be a short one, lasting between 30 to 40 minutes, but will have different story strands so that you can go back to see more. “As with many of my projects, I would like to put the players into situations well outside their comfort zone and make them experience life through the perspective of a character that is both very relatable but also very different to the main protagonists of mainstream games,” the developer concluded.

If The Circle can pull that off, it could be one of the most powerful VR experiences yet.

We don’t know when The Circle will be releasing, though we’re not expecting Oculus Touch itself to launch for a few more months yet.

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