• Roger Matthews

VR - HTC Vive Pro Ideas

For this assignment, I came up with to separate ideas that focused on the idea of altruism. I came up with one educational piece, and one experience/art piece.

Both of these ideas take advantage of the HTC Vive Pro's higher resolution displays.

I will say one difficulty I had was realizing how unfamiliar I am with various niches of VR content, and I would realize ideas I had were already done before.

Educational mindfulness

Initially, thinking of how to help others, I wanted to work on an educational VR game that would help teach mental health related coping skills, but as I researched online, I realized just how many apps already exist that tackle this approach in various ways. I did nevertheless find these articles interesting -

- Mental Health Center of Denver Is Using VR Technology to Bridge the Care Gap in Behavioral Health

- The Use of Virtual Reality to Facilitate Mindfulness Skills Training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: A Case Study

A bit overwhelmed, I thought of a simple meditation based concept that involves floating around in a highly detailed 3D environment.

As you float around and come upon a location, your view locks into place, like in this picture, and then you listen to a guided meditation (length can be set in settings). As you listen, you are instructed to notice specific details of what you're looking at. As the meditation ends, the screen fades to black, and then fades back in with a subtly modified version of the same landscape. You are told there are various subtle differences in the landscape now, and must point them out using your headset, and confirming your selects with the button controller. The more differences you note, the more points you are rewarded, and when you are done, you are told how many differences you noted correctly.

The idea is to encourage mindfulness by rewarding paying attention to small details. Individual meditations can be repeated, and players can move to different meditations by exploring and finding different landscapes.

Experience/art piece

I was primarily inspired by Perspectives: Paradise and its use of both 3D environmental exploration and 360 video to both portray the same space at different points in time. It is based on the idea of experiencing the same world in different ways.

The piece focuses on the ambiguous nature of altruism, and in particular, the phrase "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." What can start out as a well intentioned idea can sometimes end up backfiring.

This piece is a first person experience where you walk in using the Vive's hardware controllers. Interactivity consists of two game states that you switch between. The idea is that you are given a task in the first state, and then see the results of your action in the second state.

The first game state is the one you start the game in. In this first state, you are in an abstract and colorful 3D low poly world. As cheery music plays, you are given a single task to perform. There is a short time limit on the task, and a timer counts down as you go. The tasks to perform are randomized and can include

- Using the controller to pick up food and walk and deliver them to another location full of hungry people.

- Shoo away pesky enemies (abstract 3D shapes) bothering families having a picnic.

The visuals should be abstract enough where you're focusing more on the game mechanics than really thinking about the 3D models representing anything in the real world. Should feel more like a silly nonsensical children's game.

When you are done, the game switches to a high resolution 3D view (making use of the Vive Pro's notably higher resolution)

In this view, it is revealed that you have been walking around a barren landscape previously. Cheery music is replaced with ambient sounds such as wind, to now ground the user in a realistic setting.

It is revealed that if you completed some tasks "successfully", you have contributed to something bad happening. For example, the boxes you carried are revealed to be food you were stealing from characters that had temporarily left their location. This means that if you "fail" by not completing the task in time, the food is not stolen, and these characters arrive to happily consume their food.

You are given a few minutes to explore the results of your actions, and are then switched back to the cartoony version of the landscape to perform another task.

The idea is to portray "winning" as something easily definable in the context of basic video game mechanics, but much more difficult to pinpoint in the context of the more complex real world around us.

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