The University of Liverpool was awarded £198,000 by the Office for Students to develop an innovative VR application to support mental wellbeing of Health Sciences students on clinical placements.
Draw & Code was appointed as the local software development partner responsible for developing this novel platform which can enable users to ‘meet’ student support tutors in a relaxing virtual environment and undertake meditation and mindfulness sessions.
The challenge was mapping this novel idea into an engaging and immersive platform that has some positive/qualifiable psychological outcomes.
The intervention’s aim was to support Draw & Code in conceptualising, designing, developing and testing the app using state of the art gamification technologies to make sure it meets the University’s technical and non- technical requirements and quality standards before the scheduled full scale deployment of the app to the health sciences students.
Powerful gamification techniques such as goal-oriented and user-centric design methods were utilised to craft an immersive and unique VR experience. The former was deployed to refine the user requirements and delineate specific usage of the app (i.e. required wellbeing sessions), which informed the choice of relevant simulated meditation and mindfulness zones (e.g. crafting of a zen lounge in a calm beach). The latter was deployed to better understand the target users’ typology and inform the choice of aesthetics, art style, avatars and lively environments (e.g. butterflies, relaxing fireplace and colourful fish life).
Other technical aspects were recommended such as hosting (i.e. server choice), signposting (i.e. user onboarding technique) and user registration methods (for anonymity) to maintain a seamless and convenient experience for all of the stakeholders.
A steering committee was formed to pilot the platform before full scale deployment. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, where some members started discussing a University- wide release of the app. Currently, serious discussions of utilising the novel platform across the higher education industry is also in place.
LCR4.0 Holistic assisted our studio in the successful delivery of the Shelta VR experience for the University of Liverpool. The insights and support formed a valuable extra resource as we designed and developed this challenging project.Sam Medlock Mathews - Producer at Draw and Code