Re-Collect VR Game


IxD Design in VR , 2020

Motivation & Project Goals

From research, we found large factors of how e-waste effects climate change. Improper disposal of e-waste landfill causes chemicals to be released in the air and valuable materials to be lost. Also, manufacturing new electronics has large greenhouse gas emissions.

This informed our goal to focus on this issue and leverage VR's affordance of active participation to enable participants to shift perspective on the value of electronics, and the decisions they can make regarding their acquisition and disposal towards reducing the negative impacts of e-waste on climate change.


Re-Collect is a VR experience project where participants mine and collect materials from e-waste while they rid an environment of toxicity, so that they can perform actions that allow them to have further environmental considerations for how they personally dispose and acquire electronics.

Team: Alex Lazimir, Alison Chan, Ashwin Birdi and Ivy Wang.

Project Length: 12 Weeks, Spring 2020

My Role

Development Stage: Research; Interaction Design (tool vendor and deposit pipe) ; Storyboard

Prototyping Stage: Asset Collection (Textures); Brand Design; User Testing

Showcase: Poster Design; Documentation

Skills & Tools

Design approaches: Google’s Design Sprint, Asana, Figma

Prototyping: Unity, Unity Collaborate, Maya, SteamVR SDK

Physical Equipments: HTC Vive Cosmos VR headset and controllers

Graphic Design: Illustrator, Figma

our narrative

The narrative is set in a near future where our team acts as a group of researchers re-visiting an old research site in a e-waste landfill area that became too dangerous due to toxicity levels.

Luckily, the site can now be re-visited using a robot built for toxic conditions that is stationed on-site and controlled remotely. Participants act as a volunteer to operate the robot and are given a mission: to identify and mine electronic devices to reduce toxicity and collect materials for our research.

Initial break-down of features
Screenshot of master environment from final submission

core interaction

The ​core interaction ​is participants use the mining tool to collect materials from devices, and restore it using a Tool Vendor machine by deciding to either repair or print a new one.

We scoped down features and focused on our "Repair vs. Print New" feature (Tool Vendor) as it provides participants an option that can actively influence the environment and increase challenges; also better related to our goal on creating a shift.

I am responsible for the interaction design for this Tool Vendor experience in "decide" stage and deposit pipe in "re-create" stage. As both should have common setting and UI controls to avoid participants learning twice, I focused on the research, design and prototype of Tool Vendor, then worked on deposit pipe near the end of prototyping stage.

Environment design (top view) and initial break-down of features
Environment design (top view) and initial break-down of features
Design Sketches
IxD Design: Tool Vendor

Exploration on form and interaction

Form & Look: I began my research on objects that participants can instinctly interact with, and can easily, logically blend into the environment and narrative.

Interaction and Effects: As visual differentiation between repairing and printing new is crucial to let participants understand and highlight the consequences to their choices, I looked for ways to create the visual impact.

Initial break-down of features
Inspiration Board: interpretation in other VR experiences, electronics, icons, effects in freezing chamber.
Design Task Breakdown
Sketches on early iterations on forms and interactions

User Flow

There are two key moments in tool vendor: to show consequence of manufacturing new devices; to allow for decision making. We broke down the whole interaction with tool vender into the design tasks below. I used this graph when ideating on form and where visual cues and micro-interactions should appear to guide and encourage next moves.

Design Task Breakdown
Design Task Breakdown: To think of necessary visual guide and interaction to progress to next steps
User Flow
Detailed User Flow

I illustrated the full experience on tool vendor to visualize and present my idea to the team. At this stage, I tended to use direct visual changes like the color of mist as toxic gas, sound effects and trash released from vendor to convey the consequences of participants' choices.

User Testing Results and Iterations

p r o t o t y p e # 1

We tested the tool vendor design for the first tiime in gray-blocked design and utilized SteamVR physical button interaction framework.

Unity screenshot of gray-blocked vendor in Prototype#1
Unity screenshot of gray-blocked vendor
Unity screenshot of iterations after prototype#1
Unity screenshot1 of iterations after prototype#1
Unity screenshot2 of iterations after prototype#1
Unity screenshot2 of iterations after prototype#1
p r o t o t y p e # 2

After the second user testing, a crucial feedback we got is to further emphasize the consequences/ effects of decisions in the environment — with more obvious impact in the experience from the usage of tool vendor.

In this way, we hoped the visibility of the environment changed by toxic gas was more a noticeable cause of their decision with tool vendor.

Screenshot of vendor with effects after printing new tool
Screenshot of vendor with effects after printing new tool
Screenshot of vendor with effects after repairing damaged tool
Screenshot of vendor with effects after repairing damaged tool
f i n a l - d e s i g n

I did couple adjustment on machine's height and angle of the instruction display. At the end, we stick to this design with a simple form as it worked well in the least dynamic shape. It fit the narrative and blended into the enviroment without giving huge visual contrast. During the finishing stage, a "light stick" with research site logo were added into the vendor as a beacon in the foggy environment, and to strength the immersiveness into our narrative.

Screenshot of final iteration
Screenshot of final design

Final Showcase and Feedback

Achievements — Participants were able to interact with tool vendor smoothly. The effects/impact of the decision to repair or print were clearly communicated and emphasised after implementing global fog that appears as a result of “print new”.

Unfortunately, we could not hold physical showcase with our designed setup under this pandemic. It would be great to see how physical setup can affect the immersiveness of our vr experience.

Final Reflection

Overall, we found that we were able to create a cohesive experience where participants understood the connection between interactions — which makes this project a success for our team.

Design Process — Thanks to the pushes and valuable feedbacks from teammates, I got to continually practise design thinking when working on countless iteration of the tool vendor experience.

The long design process of IxD Design of tool vendor above is only a part of this big project that involves game design, environment design, coding and development, etc. My work is not a isolated part in the whole VR experience and it is my responsibility to always keep myself on track and align our thoughts on each small parts.

Valuable feedbacks in user test — This is a important stage to test out my assumptions on user journey, visual design and effectivness of implemented effects, and ultimately check if we can meet the goal of the project. I enjoyed the surprises on what I had not considered in interactions and user expectations. This motivates me to refine my design until it is good enough and reaches experience goals.


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