RTA students designing interactive documentary

RTA students Kattie Laur and Anthony Suen are in the planning stage for their interactive documentary. (Rebecca Sedore / Ryersonian Staff)

RTA students Kattie Laur and Anthony Suen are in the planning stage for their interactive documentary. (Arti Panday / Ryersonian Staff)

Two fourth-year radio and television arts students are in the process of creating an interactive documentary to raise awareness of epilepsy.

The interactive, called Grey Matter, will portray everything a person with epilepsy feels, sees and hears when they experience an episode. Kattie Laur and Anthony Suen are the masterminds behind the project.

“I have personal relationships with people who have been recently diagnosed,” said Laur. “It’s assumed they pass out with flashing lights but it’s so much more than that.”

Laur said she doesn’t want people to view the interactive — which will look like a computer game — as simply a game because she feels it may take away from its educational purpose. She said the goal isn’t to beat a level or win a prize, it’s simply to learn more about the disorder.

“Any awareness around epilepsy is great because one of the biggest hurdles people with epilepsy face is the reaction of other people,” said Brandon Fairley, director of development at Epilepsy Toronto. “Breaking down stigma around epilepsy will build a more accepting environment.”

The challenge, Laur said, is trying to portray an epileptic episode that corresponds with everyone’s experience.

The interactive will allow the user to have an experience called an aura, a distinctive feeling that, for some, acts as a precursor to a seizure.

The interactive was introduced into the RTA Transmedia Centre earlier this year. The centre provides help, facilities and access to equipment for student projects.

Once they graduate, Laur and Suen are open to a summer term in the centre to produce the game. Suen said there’s a lot of freedom working in the centre.

“There’s no faculty member to tell you what to do, no boundaries or limits. We can just do what we think is best for the project,” he said. “I don’t know where it’s going to go so it’s a challenge.”

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