A virtual reality narrative of violence and post-traumatic stress based on American veteran's experiences with becoming torturers.

Technical Highlights:

Blender, Unity, Virtual Reality (CAVE2, HMD), Custom Shaders

Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project is a virtual reality performance telling the stories of ordinary American soldiers who over the course of their deployment in the American counter-insurgency campaign in the early 2000s struggled with the actions they were asked to do.

Based on interviews by political scientist Dr. John Tsukayama (Brigham Young University, Hawaii), the dissertation was adapted by writer Dr. Scott Rettberg (University of Bergen, Norway), and filmmaker Dr. Roderick Coover (Temple University, PA) into a narrative that was further developed as a virtual reality performance for the CAVE2™ Hybrid-Reality Environment at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory by VR artist Professor Daria Tsoupikova (University of Illinois at Chicago, IL), and computer scientist Arthur Nishimoto (University of Illinois at Chicago, IL).

Using the environmental models and assets by Prof. Tsoupikova, I built the Unity scenes and developed the interaction scripts used to tell the narrative through multiple indoor and outdoor environments, crossfading between domestic home spaces and abstract desert scenes as the soldiers tell their stories.



SIGGRAPH Asia 2016


Tsoupikova, D., Rettberg, S., Coover, R. and Nishimoto, A. 2016. The Battle for Hearts and Minds: Interrogation and Torture in the Age of War: An Adaptation for Oculus Rift. SIGGRAPH ASIA 2016 VR Showcase (New York, NY, USA, 2016), 5:1–5:2. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2996376.2996383

HCII 2016


Nishimoto, A., Tsoupikova, D., Rettberg, S. and Coover, R. 2016. From CAVE2TM to Mobile: Adaptation of Hearts and Minds Virtual Reality Project Interaction. Human-Computer Interaction. Interaction Platforms and Techniques. M. Kurosu, ed. Springer International Publishing. 400–411. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-39516-6_38



Tsoupikova, D., Rettberg, S., Coover, R., Nishimoto, A., The Battle for Hearts and Minds: Interrogation and Torture in the Age of War. 2015. ACM SIGGRAPH 2019 Posters on - SIGGRAPH ’15 (Los Angeles, California, 2015).

VISAP 2014


Coover, R., Rettberg, S., Tsoupikova, D. and Nishimoto, A. Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project. In Proceedings of the IEEE VIS Arts Program (VISAP), Paris, France, November 2014.




During the 2016 Electronic Literature Organization conference in Victoria, British Columbia, Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project was awarded the 2016 Award for a Work of Electronic Literature, the top prize for a creative work in the field. The jury commented: "A major achievement. The authors harness the power of digital technologies to tell a powerful story and in doing so go far in changing the audience’s hearts and minds about torture.”


At ISEA 2016 Hong Kong Cultural Revolution, the annual conference and exhibition of the International Society for Electronic Arts, Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project was one of four works selected for the juried exhibition of VR artworks in the Gallery 360 virtual reality theatre at City University of Hong Kong.


Official Selection, 2016 BIFF-Expanded, exhibition of works of expanded cinema, Bergen International Film Festival. Bergen, Norway.