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Housing

Homelessness charity launches VR game to show kids the reality of life without a home

Crisis has launched Destination Home, a free virtual reality experience designed to teach kids about homelessness through a cardboard headset.

Youngsters are being given a fresh perspective on homelessness through a new virtual reality experience.

Charity Crisis has created Destination Home, which is designed to teach smartphone savvy seven to 12 year olds the realities of how people fall into homelessness, how it can be ended and how young people can help.

The game, which can be viewed in 2D or through a cardboard VR headset available from Crisis, tells the story of three characters’ descent into homelessness. Players are tasked with completing challenges under the guidance of robot mascot Mio to see how each character was supported to leave homelessness behind for good.

“We are continually inspired by the passion our young supporters have for ending homelessness,” said Jon Sparkes, Crisis chief executive. “Whether it is completing a fundraiser, or raising awareness at school, so many get involved after seeing someone without a safe place to live. They know it isn’t right and everyone should have a home.

“By using VR to immerse themselves in the characters’ lives, players not only see how unfair homelessness is but how avoidable it is too.”

The VR experience puts players in the shoes of 24-year-old Alex who was forced into sleeping on people’s sofas, then living on the street after losing her job. Players also meet Jeff, who was made homeless after leaving the army and Bonnie who had to leave the home she shared with her boyfriend after feeling unsafe.

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The game, which takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete, was developed by immersive learning platform Musemio in a bid to help youngsters engage with the issue of homelessness.

Destination Home is freely available to download through the Musemio app on iOS and Android mobile from today.

Crisis homelessness VR game
Destination Home allows youngsters to explore different kinds of homelessness from sofa surfing to rough sleeping. Image: Crisis

“Young people have grown up with technology at their fingertips,” said Olga Kravchenko, CEO of Musemio. ”Immersive mobile games easily capture their imagination and help them to understand the world we live in today.

“Our partnership with Crisis has enabled us to broaden the dialogue around the complex topic of homelessness through play to help children develop empathy.”

It’s not the first time that gaming has been used to break down and humanise the issues around homelessness.

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Back in 2019, experts from youth homelessness charity Centrepoint streamed Life is Strange 2 online to analyse the issues discussed in the narrative video game.

The Big Issue has also used gaming conventions to tell the stories of our vendors. Last year The Big Issue developed Pick Your Path – a choose your own adventure-style piece of interactive fiction.

Meanwhile, Big Issue seller Dave Campion imagined what a Big Issue video game would look like for our recent vendor takeover magazine. 

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Your gift today will connect individuals living in poverty to the vital resources, services and opportunities needed to begin their journey to a new future. You will be supporting individuals in key areas including housing, finance, mental health and employment.

Crisis’s effort comes just days before World Homeless Day and at a time when the charity is warning of surging homelessness in the months ahead.

Sparkes added: “The financial impact of the pandemic has put thousands of people at risk of being forced from their homes, so we need more people than ever to learn about homelessness and take action to end it for good.”

The Big Issue is also working to prevent thousands of people from losing their home through our Stop Mass Homeless campaign.

Help us act now by signing our petition, contacting your local councillor to ask them to bring a Stop Mass Homelessness motion to their local authority or becoming a community champion to take action in your area.

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