Most of us have seen — or at least heard of — a number of bloody, grotesque documentaries about abused farm animals. But last week, UC Berkeley students were exposed to a new sort of awareness campaign: a virtual experience centered on the treatment of chickens.
On Sept. 3 and 4, a large, black tent adorned with bold lettering that spelled out “I, Chicken” stood on Sproul Plaza. “I, Chicken,” the name of the virtual reality experience, is a peta2 program that attempts to allow humans to experience the world from a chicken’s point of view.
peta2, a sector of PETA that appeals to more youthful audiences and university students, launched the campaign to reach universities across the nation. The campaign utilizes virtual-reality technology, including a V Arcade headset and a motion-capture set up. It is also completely wireless.
We at the Clog decided to experience the virtual reality for ourselves. As we walked into the tent, a peta2 member assisted us with the headset, placed equipment over our shoulders and told us to hold up our arms like we had chicken wings. We were then immersed into an animated virtual reality, in which we played the role of a chicken walking around in a field with our chicken friends. We eventually found ourselves in a metal cage, shoulder-to-shoulder with other chickens. Then, a man in overalls appeared outside the cage, and we began to shake overwhelmingly. Moments later, we were sitting on a conveyer belt heading into a building labeled “Slaughter House.”
The Clog spoke with peta2 spokesperson Kenneth Montville, who told us that chickens are the most abused animal on the planet. He informed us that chickens are dying at a rate of 1 million per hour in the U.S. and that the ultimate goal of the “I, Chicken” campaign is to visit 70 schools around the U.S., including Berkeley, Harvard, Brown and Princeton.
“Tens of thousands of students will hopefully develop empathy for the abused chickens,” Montville said.
If you’re interested in learning more about the campaign or seeing how the virtual experience works, click here.