Above: Photo by Minhul Kohari, edited by Manzano

Chelsea Manzano was living in the Philippines in 2016 when the government announced a controversial war on drugs. Even though Manzano was in a relatively safe Manila neighborhood, she was scared to walk down the street, and startled by every passing motorcycle.

“I’ve never felt that vulnerable in my life,” Manzano said.

Manzano left the Philippines in late 2016 and moved to Santa Cruz, where she received her master’s degree in games and playable media at UC Santa Cruz. In the program, she developed a virtual-reality experience called Peace and Order to expose what was happening in the Philippines. Players take the role of street cops, giving them an immersive look at the moral dilemmas and human rights issues.

Manzano’s idea was to shake people out of their apathy, making players experience the on-the-ground realities of the Philippines in an immediate and visceral way. She worked with four other students over six months to build it. The game was part of the arcade at Intentional Play Summit 2018.

In summer 2018, Manzano was hired as an intern at Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Santa Monica Studio and is now working full-time at the company as a production coordinator. She hopes to continue building games to tell stories from people who are unheard.

“Games in general are impactful,” said Manzano. “Each person has a different experience in the games they play.”

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