Fire! Virtual Reality
A simple fire can quickly turn dangerous. How could we teach this to children in a safe manner? One solution would be to create a game about fire safety. And perhaps in VR as well. That’s exactly what we were hired to create.
Fire safety should be one of the earliest safety aspects to teach to children early on. Children often learn more when there is fun and interactive learning material to help grasp the main learning points or at least get them talking about it. This is why Tampere University of Applied Sciences got funding and guidance from the Finnish Fire Protection Fund to create and research if a virtual reality game was the most feasible solution.
Fire! Virtual Reality consists of 8 different levels each having their own objectives to pass the level. Each level contains a hazardous situation, which the player needs to solve by scouting the areas around them. All the different situations have their own solutions, some of which include putting the fire out by using a fire extinguisher, using a fire blanket, or just by running out from the building to safety.
The target audience for the game are 10 to 13 year old children. The game was built for the newly published Oculus Quest 2, so that it could easily be brought into a classroom and still run a fully functioning VR game. This also meant that we needed to optimize the game to run on the mobile VR headset.
Anthony Vanoostendorp and always trusty programmer Severi Jokiperä were hired under TAMK to create the project along with Timo Sissala and Isabel Pohjanen. We were given quite a free reign to create the base concept, so we were all full of different ideas on what to create.
The game has a very stylized approach to appeal to a younger audience. We kept the models low poly to help save time and still produce many assets while also being optimized for the mobile Oculus 2 VR headset. A custom shader was used to tie everything together and make the visuals pop.
As for the gameplay, we had several ideas about the core gameloop. We ended up creating simple levels that have various situations, because that would be the easiest way to show and teach the target group different fire safety hazards and what to do with them. But we also decided to leave the world quite open for the players to explore and have fun and test out things. Just because the subject matter might be serious, it doesn't mean they can have fun while learning about it.
The project advanced smoothly and we had a lot of fun developing it! There were even talks of testing the game within classrooms with our target audience, but it was decided to postpone this due to health concern caused by the global pandemic. The game will be released soon after which more testing can be done to see how effective the game is. Check out more from the official webpage here.