LOWER MANHATTAN — A controversial new virtual reality experience is taking viewers through one of New York's most horrific days — from the perspective of an office worker trapped on the the top floors of the Twin Towers during the Sept. 11 attacks.
The experience, called "[8:46]" — the time the first hijacked plane hit the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001 — was made for the virtual reality display Oculus Rift by a team of French interactive game and design students.
While the premise is disturbing, the creators said in an interview with Fusion that they made the simulator to be educational and not "obscene or sensationalist."
"It was an event that defined a generation as a whole,” Anthony Krafft, the group’s creative director, told Fusion. “We wanted to portray an historical event as an individual event.”
In a description of the project on their website, the students said they created the experience using "countless hours of research in order to try to properly recreate the atmosphere and dynamics within the top floors of the towers."
The previews of the virtual reality experience on YouTube take viewers through the office building in the minutes after the plane strikes, as office workers are stricken with panic, and left trapped in a dark and smoky office.
Reaction to the simulator has been mixed, with some commenters on Youtube and Reddit defending the concept, saying it's no different from war video games or movies and books that explore 9/11, while many others have expressed shock and disgust.
Jesus, I am not sure I ever need to experience 9/11 in virtual reality. Real mixed feelings about this. https://t.co/eRHDPycl3G— Nick Horowitz (@ztiworoh) October 29, 2015