Beyond the Goggles: Examining the Potential of Virtual Reality for Climate Change Empathy.
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Despite recognition of the dire consequences of human-caused climate change, addressing the issue had been slow. Individuals struggle to empathize with environmental issues due to a lack of personal connections and physical distance. Virtual Reality provides immersive experiences, allegedly promoting empathy. My research critically examines the efficacy of two VR experiences; Symbiosis and Tree, in generating empathy and encouraging pro-environmental behaviour. Using Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis as my methodology, I suggest an affordance analysis for the first layer, instead of the usual textual analysis. The findings suggest that while VR offers immersive experiences, it is limited by developers’ biases and lacks concrete solutions to systemic issues. Virtual Reality should not be considered a substitute for real-world action towards meaningful change.