Dragayeva said it's important to make people feel happy when they're using Virry because otherwise it wouldn't be nearly as effective. If you sit at the menu too long, a voice-over even cheesily suggests you "think about using Virry as an everyday tool to help relax and achieve a happier life."
"I want you to have fun," Dragayeva said "I want you to laugh, to smile. I want your mood to become better because I think that if your mood is better, you'll want to share your happiness." If you're happier afterward, she suggested, maybe on the way home you'll buy flowers for your significant other, and perhaps they'll pick up a piece of litter off the ground. Admittedly this butterfly-effect conservation is a bit of a stretch. It relies on people being inherently good and the notion that your good deeds can inspire others to do the same.
In addition to the prerecorded vignettes, Virry also offers live-feeds from Lewa as a way to support the Conservancy via an in-app subscription. It's a direct, actionable item that, like the interactivity of Virry itself, helps the app stand apart from traditional nature documentaries. For $2 each month (there's a free trial as well) you'll get access to live cameras at the nonprofit. There are a lot of empty fields, but if you're patient enough, you might spot a zebra or giraffe.
Dragaveya has big plans for Virry. There's another safari installment in the works, and she's also planning two art-focused apps, including one for meditation. A version of Virry is also available for mobile devices, and the company has a close relationship with Oculus, which is helping fund development of the additional projects.
"Just because I watched a documentary on children dying in Africa, children will not stop dying."
Dragayeva knows that even with Facebook's money, her projects aren't going to have the same impact as tougher laws against poachers or deforestation. At the end of the day, she's making documentaries, not saving the northern white rhino from extinction.
"Just because I watched a documentary on children dying in Africa, children will not stop dying," Dragayeva said. She realizes art can only do so much to make an impact and that her dreams of changing the world via VR are lofty. However, she won't stop trying.