Rose Troche, Morris May

Here's What It's Like To Get Virtual Reality Date Raped

"Perspective; Chapter I: The Party" lets you see it from both sides.

On Friday, January 23, at the Sundance Film Festival, I attended a college party. There, I flirted with a clearly inebriated slip of a freshman girl, I danced with her, and together, we did my first "shot ski." Then, mere minutes later, I followed her into a room and raped her.

After that, my perspective changed -- I became the girl, danced with a short, nerdy-looking boy, took a shot ski (again), and passed out. I could see the boy and his friend above me as I came to, telling me to blink if I wanted to have sex, but I was far too wasted to fully comprehend what they were saying. Everything went dark, until I woke up to find my shirt lifted up and my tights removed, with the message "you're fun" written in sharpie on my leg. After that, the party for me was over.

... And I'm glad that it was, because "Perspective; Chapter I: The Party" was a harrowing, emotionally disturbing virtual reality experience. Created by Hollywood visual effects supervisor Morris May ("Fast & Furious," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine,") and film and television director Rose Troche ("The Safety of Objects," "The L Word,"), "Perspective" lets you explore a college date rape scenario from both sides. It's heartbreakingly realistic, and does a fantastic job at exploring consent beyond "no means no."

Rose Troche, Morris May

"These things happen all the time," Troche told MTV News after experiencing the dual shorts. "One in five [college] women is the statistic. I imagine that it’s actually more, because the thing that happens is you just don’t say anything. [You think] you’re the one stupid enough to get drunk at a party, so it’s fair game. You passed out, you were dumb. I think that a lot of times, the blame goes back on the woman. I wanted to make a character who would probably turn it back inward, who doesn’t have the skills to say something."

Troche and May do a fantastic job setting up what they call the "social hierarchy" of the party situation in 12 mere minutes (the first six are from his perspective, the second six from hers), and they also impressively get inside the head of the male character as he internalizes jabs from his friends ("you're like, pocket-sized") and deals with the cultural pressures of masculinity. There are also scenes where he and the girl hit it off, and for a moment you think they may even like each other, though this in no way makes up for what happens later on.

Only adding to the whole experience? At Sundance, at least, the scene from the male perspective is experienced while you sit on a couch straight out of a frat house, while the female experience is rather viscerally experienced while lying on a bed.

To learn about rape culture and what you can do to combat it, head over to Look Different.

"I wanted to cast these people who were freshman looking; kind of easy bait," Troche continued. "I really wanted to show the guys as that same thing, too. I was trying to show their social status with tiny little things like [the male] getting flicked, and his beer getting taken away."

What “Perspective” does is create a world in which seeing things from both sides isn’t just possible, it’s encouraged. When you’re seeing the assault from the male’s angle, you feel like you know him a bit better, and his scenario seems almost familiar – like a drunken hook up that might take place on any college campus. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell his story without seeing hers, and that was Troche and May’s goal – to foster empathy, and give male viewers a window into what this experience looks and feels like for a woman.

Rose Troche, Morris May

"Virtual reality is such a powerful storytelling medium," May said. "When you become someone else, it affects the way you behave in front of other people."

"And maybe emotionally, somewhere it goes in some kind of pocket," Troche added. "We were hoping that, especially men, realize, ‘Oh, geez, I think I might have done that.’ Recognizing a behavior that they thought at the time wasn’t even a thing -- a grey area. We’re trying to get them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes."

Setting "Perspective" at a college party was clearly no accident, since -- and similarly themed Sundance documentary "The Hunting Ground" addresses this, as well -- college is the place where many of these often alcohol-fueled scenarios play out. Many attend those parties with the goal of getting wasted and hooking up, and when something like what happens in "Perspective" actually goes down, the shame, fear and pressure from everyone from friends to college administrators is often enough to silence women and keep them from reporting the rape.

"We’d love for it to be shown at orientation week," Troche said.

"It runs incredibly well on what’s called Google Cardboard," May added, "For $20, you can take a piece of cardboard, slide ["Perspective"] in it, and watch it... There isn’t much of a distribution plan as of now, but we’re ready."

I personally hope they do, since "Perspective" was one of the most chilling, emotionally powerful experiences I've had using a screen, and it's not going to exit my consciousness anytime soon. Which, according to Troche, is the entire point.

"We’ve seen people run out," she said. "We’ve seen some trauma happen."

Pledge to take a stand against sexual assault over at It's On Us.

"Perspective; Chapter I: The Party" is currently playing at the Sundance Film Festival