The virtual reality immersion project “The Middle Passage Experience: African Captivity in Brazil, 1750-1850” documents the transitional period from Africa to the Americas. The ship journey from Elmina Castle in Ghana to Salvador, Bahia (Brazil) took between forty and fifty days from Luanda, Angola to Rio de Janeiro. This six to seven-week period was essential in transforming the captive’s body and mind from free to newly enslaved person.

In this interactive VR, participants are first presented to Elmina castle. They line up with other captives as they enter the ships. Participants may interact with others while in line, though the majority of the “play” takes place on the ship. As a matter of survival, participants must make choices. They may do a variety of things, including winning favor by cleaning the deck, make a friend, steal food, and so on. The ship stories are based on research obtained from visual and archival materials, the database, and the numerous primary accounts from African captives, creoles, elite, ship captains, and ship logs.

The VR project began in fall 2017. Its long-term research goal is to measure empathy learning through virtual immersion. While the project is still in development, a portion of it was showcased at UCF Celebrates the Arts on April 12, 2019.

Content development including writing scripts, code, and illustrating scenes, people, and other art is continuing. The project works in collaboration with history, SVAD, CHDR, the Africana Studies Program, and Computer Science department.

Principal Investigators
• Dr. Yovanna Pineda
• Dr. Emily Johnson
• Dr. Amy Giroux

Students Involved with Project
• 2017-2018: Ian Lewis, Jason Parmelee, Thomas Boswell, Wyatt Baldrel, & Phuc Truong
• 2018-2019: Nathan Tackett, Elizabeth Maspoch, Devin Barron, Sara Young, Yuri Rubio & Jason Waters

• UCF Africana Studies
• UCF Center for Humanities and Digital Research (CHDR)
• UCF Department of History
• UCF School of Visual Arts and Design
• UCF Computer Science

• UCF Department of History

Project Website