Pollutants become monsters in VR game that doubles as clean water educational tool

The Hidden Dangers Project is a VR experience that intends to educate kids about clean water and raise funds for WaterIsLife.

Advertising, design and digital agency Deutsch NY, visual content studio Ntropic and VR company Tactic have launched an educational social good initiative, the Hidden Dangers Project, in conjunction with nonprofit WaterIsLife.

According to a rep, this includes an interactive VR game in which a player floats in a boat while pollutants personified as monsters spring from the water and the player uses a purification device as a weapon against them – with the aim being to educate children about the importance of clean water.

These so-called monsters include the Bacteria Monster, the Trash Monster, the Metal Monster and the Chemical Monster.

The VR experience and an accompanying case study video highlight the Khao Laem River in Thailand in which residents have been living off the river for generations, Ntropic said.

“They depend on it for everything from drinking water and food sourcing to transportation and sanitation. But there are dangers lurking in the water that they can't see,” the site says. “We created the VR experience to bring Thai children face to face with the dangers hidden in their water. Beyond just teaching them about proper filtration and sanitation, the project inspires kids to keep water clean in the future.”

The Hidden Dangers site enables users to “explore the river,” which highlights each of the aforementioned monsters and illustrates the dangers they pose.

For example, it notes children collect water from the Chao Phraya River to drink, cook and brush their teeth without realizing the Bacteria Monster is hiding in it as a result of human and agricultural waste and they unknowingly contract diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery and chronic diarrhea.

The Trash Monster, on the other hand, comes when rain washes human waste from land – and it kills fish.

Further, when metal pipes get old, they leak into the river to create a toxic Metal Monster.

“Though made out of iron, magnesium and lead, most people can’t see this monster, but it lives in the fish children eat, causing lead poisoning in people (and animals) of all ages,” the site says.

And, finally, when factories discharge chemicals, they create a Chemical Monster, which can disrupt hormone systems.

The site also includes a downloadable Oculus experience, as well as a 360-degree video, which it says allows educators to share the experience with their students without a VR helmet.

“Simply download the experience to teach your class about the world water crisis, techniques for proper filtration and to inspire children to keep water clean in the future,” the site says.

The site also asks for donations, noting $10 buys a WaterIsLife personal filtration straw that provides clean drinking water for one child for up to a year.

According to WaterIsLife, which says it “provides clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education programs to schools and villages in desperate need,” the filter straw is a portable water purifier that can be used in any water source.

WaterIsLife said the straw includes membranes, iodized crystals and active carbon, which removes medium-sized bacteria and is effective against waterborne bacteria and viruses, such as typhoid, cholera, E. coli, dysentery and diarrhea.

“The filter acts as a straw. It hangs around the neck of a child and provides him or her clean, filtered water, a basic need for survival,” WaterIsLife said. “The user places the end of the filter into the water source and sucks as he or she would on a regular straw. As the water passes through the filter, it’s cleaned…”

The filter can clean more than 800 liters of water, or two to three liters per day. The filter will clog internally when it is no longer effective, WaterIsLife said.

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