The play4REAL lab and our Fall ForAGirl Event!
Our team spent most of last week putting together the lab space and common area so that we could host our ForAGirl Fall event. Cindy and Cindi at Oculus pushed hard to make sure we had our Gear VR, Samsung phones, and Oculus Rift for the event – I really can’t thank them enough for all their efforts! In all, the day was nearly perfect. Here were the main takeaways that my team and I took from the event:
The Oculus Rift was easy to set up and use. This was my first time setting up the Rift on my own, and it was quite simple and straight forward. Initially, we tried to set up the Rift to use with Steam VR, but couldn’t get that to work – we kept getting the same error (error 400: Compositor not available). Given the time constraints, we ended up giving up on Steam VR and using the Rift through the Oculus library. We will revisit the Steam VR issue at some point in the near future.
The setup for the Gear VR was straightforward, but a bit time consuming. We had six Gear VRs and six Samsung Galaxy 8 phones in total. The hand controllers for the Gear VR were the biggest issue. They wouldn’t stay calibrated, which became an issue later when we had kids play using them. In the end, we ditched the hand controllers and had the kids use the touch pads instead. This is something we will need to think about as we move into the development of smokeSCREEN VR, which we will be developing for both the Gear VR and the Rift. I am also interested to see how the Oculus Go will work in terms of set up and implementation into schools for our pilot study this spring.
It was such an amazing experience to watch kids experience VR, most for the very first time. I had the best job, giving each kid a turn on the Rift. I was impressed with how quickly they picked up on how to play Job Simulator with little to no instruction on how to use the hand controllers or how to navigate the VR space. Kids grabbed, threw, and picked up virtual items with ease. They bent down to look into cabinets on the floor level and put their hands (and heads) into into pots of virtual boiling water. Most of them tested the limits of the game, while others stuck to playing by the “rules”. Kids preferred the Rift over the Gear VR hands down. In terms of setup and ease of use, I also preferred the Rift. This is something to think about moving forward as we try to optimize the experience for smokeSCREEN VR on the Gear VR (or Oculus Go) when we go into schools.
We also had a projection set up in the lab where kids could watch others play on the Rift. There was a lot of coaching and interaction from those that were watching and not playing – this is interesting to think about as we consider how to create the feeling of social pressure in the game (or perhaps outside the game as well?)
In total, we had about 23 kids at the ForAGirl event. We initially capped it at 20 (with a sign up sheet for 25 in case some didn’t come) to ensure we were able to provide kids with enough hands-on experience of VR. Our team got some invaluable hands-on experience with VR hardware and software set up and trouble shooting, which will undoubtedly prepare us for the spring pilot with kids at schools. Watching the kids interact with both the Rift and the Gear VR (as well as their interaction of watching each other play) has given us a lot to think about moving forward with the development of smokeSCREEN VR.
Next steps? Focus groups with teens in the community next week. We want to learn more from the experts (teens) about vaping and social pressure. Stay tuned!