Unabomber VR: Explore How FBI and Journalists Worked Together to Catch ‘The Unabomber’

For 17 years, an elusive criminal sent homemade bombs that targeted universities, airlines and computer stores.

Virtual Reality (VR) has the capability of transporting a user to another place. This is not only perfect for videogames, stories and experiences but also for historical education. This is exactly what Immersion and the Newseum wanted to do with VR application Unabomber VR; a VR experience that explores the real-life case of ‘The Unabomber’ a man who terrorised universities, airlines and computer stores. VRFocus spoke to Piotr Baczyński, the CEO of creators Immersion about the experience.

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Warsaw based studio Immersion have created a virtual reality (VR) experience that makes you a member of the investigation team on the hunt for the Unabomber, code name UNABOM (UNiversity and Airline BOMbings). Unabomber VR explores how the FBI managed to track down the man responsible for 16 bombings over the course of two decades. The case spanned eight states and involved about 500 agents, the FBI were flummoxed. In 1995, a suspect mailed a 35,000 word anti-technology essay that was over 60 pages long to The New York Times and The Washington Post. After much debate, the Post printed the manifesto with the Times sharing the costs of the prints. Months later, a tip arrived from the bomber’s brother which eventually led the FBI to a small cabin in Montana where Theodore Kaczynski was arrested. The story addresses the challenges of fighting crime in the age of terrorism, journalistic ethics and the role of press when it comes to the public interest.

The six-to-seven minute experience will allow you to make key decisions, including finding bombs and disarming them with a special police robot. Narrated by Terry Turchie, the FBI agent who ran the task force on the case, you will interact with evidence that helped unravel the mystery. As well as hear the ethical dilemma journalists had to face on their decision to publish the Unabomber Manifesto or not. Baczyński explains that they worked together with historians, crime investigators and members of the museum to make the experience as realistic as possible.

Immersion was approached by The Newseum, a museum based in Washington that is focused on journalism and freedom of speech. The Newseum already have various VR applications and are continuing this with Unabomber as the first of a new series of applications. With the next ones to be focused on famous explorer Nellie Bly, the Greensboro (Woolworth’s) Lunch Counter protest and Watergate. The Unabomber is available on Viveport and Steam VR, at a slightly longer 10-20 minute experience.

To find out more about the experience and the Unabomber, watch the video below.

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