In the second half year of academic year 2016/2017 the Virtual Reality Experience Minor at the University of Applied Sciences took place. With an interdisciplinary team consisting of students of Multimedia Design, ICT, Civil Engineering and Fashion Branding, Unicef asked us to create a VR application that would gather more awareness among (young) millenials.
Unicef pitched the following research question:
How can we reach a younger target group through VR/AR/Gamification and make them contribute to our mission?
They also gave us a list of core values:
- * Personal
- * Interactive
- * Experience/Emotion
- * Online/Shareable
- * Fundraising
With these as a starting point we researched and learned a lot about VR, what to take into account in terms of interaction, we learned how to use Unity for creating VR environments, Maya for creating 3D objects and much more. We developed a concept that revolves around the core values Unicef proposed by creating a playful and positive art style portraying refugees and their story.
The main theme for the concept we chose in agreement with Unicef was education, giving the user a chance to help the refugees develop their educational skills so they won’t get a big disadvantage because of their situation. Hence we created the hashtag #NoLostGeneration for the branding.
To focus on the personal aspect we created the main game. It is based around creating a package for the refugees in the camp. There are several rounds with three different items, and you can only pick one. This forces the user the choose between the three items which causes a dilemma moment.
The user could pick the items they resonate with the most personally, or the item they want to give the refugees the most.
The main game, the user has to choose one of three items and put them into the box next to them
We used the Leap Motion controller for creating the interaction with the virtual object. With this controller you can use your bare hands to touch and pick up items. We choose this option because we found it to be the most intuitive for the user (they don’t have to first learn the layout of a controller and then learn what each button does).
First time trying out the interaction in Unity with the Leap Motion
In the intro the user will be told the story of why the refugees had to leave their home
Before we drop the user into the main game they will play through an intro. This intro is passive, so there is no interaction, and focusses on telling the story of the refugees, why they had to run away and how long their journey was. This story is told by a voice-over while the actual events are happening around the user. With this we tried to focus on the emotion and letting the user develop empathy for the refugees.
We tried to create a connection between VR and web by creating a dialog in the VR experience that asks the user whether or not they want to share what they just experienced. The user is presented with two buttons, yes or no. If the user presses no the experience is over and the users leave the VR experience. If the user presses yes a dialog will tell them to take of the headset and look at the computer, where the sharing page will automatically be opened. The user can then fill in his credentials and share their package on Facebook.
The webpage the users will see when they click on the shared Facebook link
The idea behind the Facebook sharing is for the user to ask their friends how well they know them, a proven concept. The friends have to guess what the user chose in the VR experience to see how wel they know them, and after see the score of how much they got right. They will also see where Unicef’s VR stand is located at that moment, if they want to try out the real experience for themselves.
The comparison of the boxes the VR user chose
For the fundraising we created three different minigames associated with the category of items you chose the most. For example, if the majority of the items you chose were sportive items, you’d play a minigame of paddle ball. The idea is that with each round you progress, or the higher the score you get, a certain amount of money is connected to it. This way you would get your own personal amount of money to donate, however we give the user the choice to donate either that amount or anything else, were not forcing them to pay the amount.
The main flow of the experience
Usability testing for VR differs a lot from traditional usability testing. Fortunately, we had the chance to work with Amsterdam based testing specialists Valsplat. They have years of experience in testing, however they had not yet tested for VR. This was a learning experience for both parties and it turned out really well, we learned a lot of things about our prototype from the users, but we also learned a lot about how to approach user testing for VR.
User testing the first iteration of the prototype at Valsplat
During the minor we learned a lot about working with an interdisciplinary team and we learned a lot about how to make, test and work with VR.