A VR GAME TO UNDERSTAND SUSTAINABILITY.
Econeer VR Experience is the brainchild of a team of RIT New Media Design and New Media Interactive Development seniors. Faced with the prompt “Do Good,” our challenge was to create an interactive capstone project for the 2017 ImagineRIT Creativity and Innovation Festival.
How do we "Do Good?"
We brainstormed every idea we could think up around about how we “do good.” After hours (and days!) of debate, we agreed on an environmental focus, specifically teaching environmental sustainability. But how could we create an interactive learning experience around sustainability? A virtual reality game! Immersive VR experiences provide greater retention and motivate students to understand a topic. We thought a VR game would be perfect to add both an extra level of fun and an emotional connection to our goal.
We All Have an Impact
Much as we all have an impact on our environment, every user that passed through our booth at ImagineRIT would be asked to choose how they create an impact on the health of the world in our game. Participants could choose to either positively or negatively impact the Econeer world based on their actions. Certain decisions would allow for a happier, growing, and healthy global community while others would result in a struggling and suffering world.
Every user would be asked to choose how they create an impact on the health of the world.
How did we achieve our mission?
We leveraged VR technology to design a game that forced users to take a step back and learn how actions we all make impact the health of our environment. Our players were able to walk freely around and use the VIVE controllers to pinpoint areas of the Econeer world in need. Through a corresponding menu and health meter they could make decisions and witness firsthand the immediate impact of their actions on three core components of a healthy world: energy, happiness, and population (as outlined by an RIT Sustainability Professor).
UI/UX for Virtual Reality
This experience gave us the opportunity to learn about user experience and user interfaces for virtual reality environments. By creating interfaces that take advantage of the platform and the user’s ability to move and look around the space we can create more immersive experiences and a greater emotional connection between the experience and the user.
Challenges of Teamwork
Working on a project with four other designers and two developers proved to be a lesson in and of itself. Our group developed dozens of great ideas for our project, but only a handful were implemented.
The lesson? While the project turned out great (we received an “A” for our work), we could have achieved more. If we had increased communication and more effectively defined individual roles, we would have been able to implement even more of the team’s ideas.
How Could We Improve?
Given more time I believe we could’ve built a stronger gameplay system, implemented real-world advice provided by a sustainability professor during our planning phase, as well as tested our initial prototype with the urban planning students at RIT to gain true user feedback.