SXSW 2017: You’re A Pig Before The Slaughter In This VR Experience

by Charles Singletary • March 18th, 2017

The immersion of virtual reality experiences can be harnessed to educate, terrify, inspire, or entertain. Some experiences eschew the entertainment aspect, instead shooting for something impactful that may even change your real life routine once you step out of the virtual space. iAnimal is one such experience that gives an immersive look into farms and factories with the goal of eliminating cruel conditions for animals.

At their SXSW booth, passersby are given the choice of chicken or pig for their virtual experience. I chose the pig and was transported into a claustrophobic pen with a fellow pig the next pen over trying to interact. After that, you’re taken through a handful of scenes that make it tougher and tougher to sit through the roughly 5-minute video as you witness mother pigs rendered motionless to be fed on, a grown pig shaking itself loose after having its neck cut open, and a couple pigs being euthanized via electrocution. The hosts were there to inform and comfort those that watched iAnimal, hoping that they’d leave an impression on at least some of those that stopped at their booth.

It doesn’t take a lot of thought to figure out what path an animal takes before it gets to your plate, but iAnimal was still an eye opener. Pictures of such conditions are heartbreaking but don’t show the situation in the same way this immersive experience set out to do. You’re isolated beneath the VR headset and headphones, basically watching from the perspective of an animal as the typical day-to-day horrors transpire in these environments. When you look around the 360-degree video you’ll often catch other gruesome activities taking place. The team behind the project has already reached over 22,000 people with the iAnimal experience ,and it joins a long list of VR experiences attempting to leave such a deep impression that people seek change afterward.

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  • DougP

    Great article.

    I’ve known of this product, from youtube videos, but this is the first coverage I’ve seen on a VR site.

    Really great to see this – people should educate themselves, and the immersion of VR HMD can really increase the understanding of how animals are treated.

    Another great video, very solid narration by Joaquin Phoenix (himself a vegan) – highly recommend it. Believe you can watch the entire thing on youtube or on their website. Title to search for is “Earthlings”.

  • jimrp

    Yummy bacon.

  • rheddherring

    Sad to see VR used this way, but it’s inevitable.

    • Mo Last

      Why’s it sad? I’m a meat eater, I’ll never be vegan or vegetarian (😷😷😷) but why is this a bad thing? You people complain about every single non gaming vr related news…

      • yag

        Some people are afraid to see the reality. And to change…

    • DougP

      Re: “Sad to see VR used this way, but it’s inevitable.”

      Yeah..inevitable something useful and educational …even “eye opening” … would creep into our Zombie/monster slaying VR wonderland of shovelware.

      As you & Trump so eloquently & intelligently say – “Sad”.

  • Ilia Parshakov

    Great article. Glad to know that there are people who care about animals on UploadVR.

  • jaykel

    Torture porn for the agitprop crowd. Anthropomorphizing dumb beasts is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. The only thing I would change is put some sanitation improvements in the birthing pen to get a better survival rate. Right now, they’re just leaving money–and pork–on the table.

    • Cool Mans (coolmans123)

      Pigs are insanely smart and this has been proven over and over again in scientific studies. It only takes one google search to find that out and you seem like a man of science so I’m not sure why you’re missing out on this.

      • yag

        For me it’s not even a matter of intelligence (and pigs are smart
        indeed, much smarter than dogs and cats). The only matter is : all
        mammals are sensitive beings. And so they should deserve our empathy. Unfortunately, centuries of monotheism has conditioned us to regard animals as
        mere objects that we can use as we like 🙁

        • DougP

          Even with the conditioning, humans still have to *hide* what they do in slaughterhouse of the mega factory farms.
          People who actually see & know what happens, frequently change their dining habits.

          It’s actually a philosophical outlook that’s nurtured by farming/slaughter industry, such that we have people who practice Vegetarianism, Veganism….and….Carnism.
          There are some great you tube videos on Carnism, detailing how it’s promoted & propagated.