She is the pioneer of Immersive Journalism, a groundbreaking brand of nonfiction that offers fully immersive experiences of the news using virtual reality gaming platforms. Combining her communication and technology skills with her lengthy career as a reporter, de la Peña believes newsgames can deepen the understanding of complex stories.
Her most recent project Hunger in Los Angeles creates the feeling of “being there” as a real crisis unfolds on a food-bank line at the First Unitarian Church. Hunger was called “one of the most talked-about” pieces at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Her other projects include the MacArthur funded Gone Gitmo, a virtual Guantanamo Bay Prison; Cap & Trade, an interactive exploration of the carbon markets built with Frontline World and CIR; Ipsress which investigates detainees held in stress positions; and Three Generations, a newsgame on the California eugenics movement that premiered at 2011 Games For Change. She also co-founded the Knight News Challenge winner Stroome.com, an online collaborative video editing platform that hosted users from 126 different countries.
A graduate of Harvard University, she is a award-winning documentary filmmaker with twenty years of journalism experience including as a correspondent for Newsweek Magazine and as a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Premiere Magazine, and others. Her films have screened on national television and at theatres in more than fifty cities around the globe, garnering praise from critics like A.O. Scott who called her work “a brave and necessary act of truth-telling.”