Oculus Launch Pad is a pilot program for promising VR creators. In May, they selected a total of 100 participants to envision the future of VR.

The plan was that they provide you with the essentials, and you go to town building your dream demo, and that’s just what I did.

Liz Rowley here, looking a little caught off guard, was my co-partner at the SF VR Hackathon in March and companion at Bootcamp too! Check out her VR production studio.

Liz Rowley here, looking a little caught off guard, was my co-partner at the SF VR Hackathon in March and companion at Bootcamp too! Check out her VR production studio.

I knew that VR for Good is a space that I most definitely want to be in and that I need(ed) to acquire new skills in order to make the level of impact that I want. 

That’s where Moki’s adventures comes in. Moki’s Adventures is the working title for what is now, officially, my first VR project.

I originally wanted to develop a game for kids of all ages (in other words, grown ups who never grow up). I was inspired by games like Toca Boca’s Nature and wanted to allow people to create worlds of their own in VR. 

I knew that kind of programming skill was far beyond my breadth and that I needed to scale down the idea as much as possible if I was going to learn how to create anything in VR.

So I started developing a concept where a player could select a world and learn about the local inhabitants (endangered species to be specific) and their native environment through interacting with it. I planned on learning how to animate and build in more user interaction, but instead spent the majority of my time learning how to design the environment in Blender and Unity. So the idea had to become even simpler.

Eventually the demo started to grow legs, more like palm trees, and I found that there is so much more at work when designing a User Experience in a space like this.

Over the course of the Summer, as the build progressed I found grown ups had a harder time “getting it” than kids did. Not sure what to make of that until I do more testing.

In the end, my VR Demo is about gently immersing yourself in a world you don’t normally get to be a part of – where you can learn and become a better version of you.

Naturally it’s about learning new facts, but ultimately it should tap into your inherent love and appreciation for animals – animals who need to be heard. Animals who are in jeopardy, and need us to wake up and see what a beautiful gift they are. Animals who inspire you to make a positive difference.

The product designer in me wants to build a whole entire digital platform where you could experience any number of these “episodes” (each dedicated to a specific ecosystem), and be able to continue learning and interacting with these worlds online – connecting with other individuals who feel just as passionate about these wondrous creatures.

There is also a side of me who would love to develop this only for Cancer patients who just need a space to get away to – they could have two different kinds of modes depending on how much they need to be entertained versus wanting to influence and interact with the scene as much as they want.

I could see individuals, groups and organizations working together to make a difference via these VR experiences. For simplicity and accesibility’s sake though, it could be through a website like www.mokisadventures.com where people could learn even more about animals and their native environments, and ways they are in need of help. There could be 360 and interactive content where they could  discover stories of animal rescues and conservation achievements in real-time. It could be a community where people could even share their stories out in the wild, in the field or even perhaps how they have done something to create more awareness from the comfort of their home.

This book has been my bible this Summer! Full of ways people can help Sea Turtles with little to no resources.

This book has been my bible this Summer! Full of ways people can help Sea Turtles with little to no resources.

After creating this VR Demo, and the experience I have had in the process, I fully believe that VR will be a remarkable tool for storytelling and even more powerful for education for all.

As the most immersive experience platform I can think of, VR taps into our senses and helps us see things we take for granted everyday. It makes us even more aware of our presence and connection to our surroundings and others.  What better medium is there than VR to help capture, share and educate everyone about the wonders of the world we live in?