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Making VR Development More Accessible: A Platform Agnostic VR Framework
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Virtual Reality (VR) offers developers an immersive and engaging new medium to create simulations, training tools, and educational games. One of the first decisions a VR developer will face is which VR platform to target. In 2014 consumer choice was limited to Google Cardboard. By 2016 this had expanded to six platforms. Today there are not only more platforms, but even more variation in platform functionality. Developing for multiple platforms is becoming a necessity, but this can be a complex task; for instance, each platform requires you to write code using that platform’s Software Development Kit (SDK), thus code written for one platform will not work for another, additionally, each platform handles motion tracking and controller haptics differently, and even uses different coordinate systems for touchpad interfaces. This overwhelming amount of variance can be daunting for those who are interested in VR game development but lack the experience to do so, such as students and early professionals. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers are on the rise and real-time industries like game development, are looking for ways to generate more interest in students. Research suggests that game development experience promotes higher STEM motivation; programming is a major component of game development but can be difficult to understand and with high failure rates. Programming courses in primary and secondary schools focus on teaching basic concepts using visually-based applications; while these are effective, students are still unprepared for writing code and making a game. In this paper, I present and apply my approach to make VR development more accessible by creating a platform agnostic framework for the Unity game engine that simplifies the development process and reduces the programming load by providing users with an easy to use drag-and-drop toolkit. In my study, 20 high school students developed educational VR games for the Oculus Go. My findings indicate that those who used the framework found it easier to develop their game and showed a higher interest in STEM fields compared to those who did not use the framework. The framework was also applied in a professional environment where it continued to produce positive results.
Tynes, Cameron Allen (2019). Making VR Development More Accessible: A Platform Agnostic VR Framework. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from