Name: Christophe Mallet
Location: London, England
Job: CEO & Co-Founder of BODYSWAPS
“I was working in digital and social media for five years, and I got a bit bored. It was the very beginning of VR and I was looking for people that were doing interesting things.
I met Julien (my future partner) through a LinkedIn search. We met in a pub and he showed me the very first development kit from Facebook, the Oculus. He showed me the “Night Cafè,” a recreation of Van Gogh’s painting in 3D where you can walk around freely. It completely blew my mind and a few weeks later I quit my job.”
The start of a virtual transformation
“The idea behind BODYSWAPS is to leverage the power of immersive technologies to unlock human potential. We come from VR and mostly in the storytelling part of the VR world, but always very interested in what’s happening in research, especially the work of Stanford University around virtual embodiment.”
What happens when I put you in the body of ‘x’?”
“You’re yourself, but of a different race, age, or gender. And then, you’re put in a social situation where you have to interact, see yourself in a different body. What is the behavioral impact of that? The results of all of those studies are completely amazing. From reducing racial bias to helping a woman with depression to be less self-critical. As a tool for behavioral transformation, it’s something that has never been seen before. Our idea was: how can we integrate storytelling VR with principles of learning design to build a set of experiences that can really transform people?”
A meaningful partnership
“The NGO industry was waking up to realize there was no global, standardized training for sexual violence prevention and there needs to be. We worked with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy to develop the Safeguarding Training for the Aid Sector.
We explored the desired behaviors and the obstacles involved. We looked through the prism of the people involved: survivor, observer, manager, and perpetrator. To change the culture of reporting, we focused on giving people the confidence to report. If you get them to respect and empathize with the victim, the situation will be changed. This training takes you through incredibly charged conversations with high stakes for everyone involved and people tend to avoid them. This is not something you can learn on an e-learning platform. That’s when BODYSWAPS comes into play.”
“Through VR’s emotional engagement from social presence and believability created by voice and gaze, you learn to manage a conversation with a survivor of an incident. Self-reflection is the secret ingredient to learning.”
“VR is the ultimate storytelling tool. When we are kids, that’s what we do. You put some sheets over the dinner table and it becomes a fortress. We build worlds to tell stories.
VR is the medium way you can do exactly that.”