St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has teamed up with award-winning artist Lucas Risotto and VR tech company Z3VR to create the VR game Voices of Inspiration. This game, which uses the voices and artwork of St. Jude patients, is a tie-in to the world's first all-civilian space mission Inspiration4. The Inspiration4 mission took place last month, raised over $225 million for St. Jude, and featured St. Jude childhood cancer survivor and physician assistant turned astronaut Hayley Arceneaux as part of its four-man crew.
Voices of Inspiration, according to Z3VR CEO Josh Ruben, started off with a comparison made by Nicole Scott, astronaut and founder of The Space for Art Foundation. "The journey of an astronaut and a cancer patient have a lot in common," she said. "They are plunging into an unknown high-risk environment, far away from friends and family, with weird food and even increased levels of radiation." With that idea, Voices of Inspiration was born. The game has players board a space elevator and explore virtual worlds based on questions the patients of St. Jude asked the Inspiration4 astronauts before their historic launch. These questions include what kind of adventures the children dream about going on, how they deal with nerves before a big change, and what they've learned from their experiences with cancer.
As players progress through the game, they come across orbs of light that play the responses to the questions asked by the astronauts. "I've learnt that it's important to help others even when you have your own struggles," one says. Another one says that "Every person, in their heart, they have kindness in it."
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is no stranger to the gaming community. In the past, it partnered with Facebook's Oculus VR to create the Hall of Heroes, a VR celebration of St. Jude patients who managed to overcome cancer and other life-threatening diseases. St. Jude has also teamed up with the Los Angeles Valiant Overwatch team to help raise $500,000 for the hospital. In a similar type of spirit, Bethesda once auctioned off a character in Starfield to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.
Voices of Inspiration is available on the Oculus App Lab.