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Space Ocean Library at UFVA Sharing Immersive Experiences With A New Audience

A person interacts with a VR experience while wearing a headset and operating a set of controllers

At the end of July, Becky Lake and Meagan Couture represented the Institute for IDEAS at the 2022 University Film & Video conference. Their immersive project, Space Ocean Library, stayed up for four days as an installation piece, allowing many conference participants to enjoy this transporting experience. 

Space Ocean Library is an interactive VR experience set in a study-turned-mystical purgatory. In this room, you explore the impact we have on the lives of others and how they influence our own lives, even after death, through the objects by which we remember them. While Becky and Meagan represented the project at UFVA, the development team also included Mig Mrizek, Alejandro Irizarry, Cassidy Edwards, Jesse Schwartz, Danielle Lawrence, Denzel Averhart, and Josh Joe.

Originally, the experience was designed for stationary play, with the user teleporting around the game-space. During the first day of the conference, users with no VR experience had difficulty navigating the space in this way. With a large presentation area available, Becky and Meagan were able to adjust the gameplay to allow the users to walk the actual space of the room, expanding Space Ocean Library into a fully immersive three-dimensional experience. 

With over one hundred participants visiting the UFVA presentation of Space Ocean Library, Meagan and Becky were able to collect feedback from a wide audience. Most participants found the experience enchanting and interesting. Others found the narrative unclear, as it is up to the user to piece together the story through the objects within the study. The youngest participant (10 years old) was the only one to break the system by throwing an object outside the room.   

Meagan Couture, director of the experience, offered this reflection on the conference: “Have to say, my favorite part that came about from the input of participants was expanding the experience to match the full size of the VR room, down to the table and the chairs being there both in VR and in real life!”

Serving as an opportunity to not only share Space Ocean Library with a new audience, but also to improve the experience for them, Meagan and Becky's UFVA presentation was a great success.