In my thesis, I explore the concept of people building empathy with survivors of sexual assault, through a self designed video game, and whether or not this would impact treatment of survivors of sexual assault. I connect the literature between support for survivors of sexual assault, particularly on college campuses, and feminist game design theory. I elaborate about the design process of the virtual reality video game, in which I feature several true stories of survivors of sexual assault who are students on college campuses. These stories were picked from a couple of my sources (the book, We Believe You by Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino, and a couple of Huffington Post videos, featuring a student from Brown University and a student from Columbia University). I discuss how I use the immersive quality of virtual reality to intensify the connection players feel to the characters in the game who represent real students. In the game, players follow a survivor through their narrative by exploring four rooms, and within each room, interacting with an object, which triggers a response (either audio, textual, visual, or combination). These responses are meant to feature symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or rape trauma syndrome. The goal of this game is to bring an awareness and understanding to the daily struggles real survivors of sexual assault have gone through on college campuses, as well as to create empathy for these survivors through an intense immersive experience, in the hopes that it will positively impact treatment of survivors.


Newton, Catherine


Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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