Playing God R&D

Playing God (R& D Version) is an interactive, immersive Virtual Reality artwork testing out a branching, multi-option narrative. Once the VR headset is put on, the viewer will find themselves in a futuristic multi-colonised solar system, where they play the part of the Captain of an outpost facing a huge humanitarian crisis. The viewer playing this role is able to direct the narrative of the work by making decisions on the ethical dilemmas they are confronted by as the narrative plays out – in effect they will be ‘Playing God’.

The ethical dilemmas are modelled on the notion of ‘Lifeboat Ethics’, which asks you what you would do if you were captain of a lifeboat with fifty people on it, and room for ten more, but a hundred people were swimming in the water. Who would you save and why? Lifeboat Ethics explores different philosophical viewpoints on ecological management and the value of human lives. The work uses the Socratic Method of asking and answering questions to develop and discount opinions, aiming to evoke a deeper engagement with the work’s ideas.

Here the viewer, playing the role of Captain of the outpost, is inundated with refugees, and you must decide who and how many to save, and how to deal with the effects of your choices, paralleling the Syrian refugee crisis.

Supported by




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Team Members

Ben Fredericks – Lead Artist –
David Gilbert – Producer –
Tim Brooke – Creative Technologist/Programmer –
Kate Unwin – Costume & Set/Installation – 
Wayne Mitchelson – Set Artist –
Anthony Clark – VR Design –
Ian Marshall – 3D Animation
James Andean – Sound Design –

With support from
Dr Fabrizio Poltroneria – De Montfort University
Sean Clark – Interact Labs
Peter Bonnell – QUAD
Chris Tyler – Phoenix

R&D // Work so far

With Funding from Arts Council England and D-Labs

R&D Version Testing at the QUAD Derby at FORMAT Festival  // 24 March to 23 April 2017

Venues installation image from QUAD for the display of the R&D version

During the Format Festival at QUAD a prototype of the VR work was shown to gather feedback on the piece.


It looked at the how audiences interact with the VR headsets. How easy the piece is to work. And whether the piece has the desired effect on the viewer.


Art Concepts:

John Sypher & Wayne Mitchelson – Concept Artist





Kate Unwin – Costume Design –

Research for Science Fiction Costumes // PDF Download

Colours for costumes // PDF Download

Initial costume design







VR pods ideas // PDF Download


Anthony Clark – VR Design






Research for video interface


Greenscreen trials

Actors (left to right):

Kieron Attwood
Katrina Sansone
Leonie Carpenter

Local actors test the script during a Greenscreen trial for the project concept

Script Video – None 360 version