Discomfort is an ongoing, multi-year effort billed as a cross between studies in human psychology and a piece of immersive storytelling. Outlined here are materials I gathered for the purposes of finalizing my studies in media production at the University of Kansas.
I've been interested in the psychological capabilities of VR for some time, namely in studies of empathy and portraying lived experiences. Delving into Autism spectrum and ADHD representation in popular media led me to the term "Visual Snow Syndrome", which I came to find is a descriptor for how I engage with and literally 'see' the world. The symptoms vary, but across all case examples those with the condition report visual distortions not dissimilar to the patterns of grain you might see in television static and/or perceiving glittering spots of light on patterns of high contrast.
As I entered my final semester as an undergrad, I had to approach my capstone assignment with it in mind what would be safe and reasonable to accomplish given the social changes we've seen in a post-COVID world-- I didn't have access to any of the equipment or facilities I'd normally be afforded as a film major. It was a perfect opportunity to conduct a remote research-oriented media project.
I put out an open call on social media for interested candidates to speak to me about their sensory sensitivities (a term which encompasses visual snow and other conditions), which would inform the preproduction phase of my project.
An image from my initial tech tests, showing the film grain effect test made in Godot.
Another early tech test, this one showing a type of closed-eye vision blob effect.
This is an excerpt of the start of my research paper.
Here's another excerpt, this time from my game design document for this project, showing the project's planned areas.