Based on our own experience as women in engineering, we were never taught or told about programming and computer science before we joined university and took the first intro to programming class. There are scarcely any medium or resources to encourage young girls to join computer science or engineering. But what if our girls grow up playing coding games in parallel to digital dress up games? What if they learn earlier on that programming is fun and intuitive, and powerful?
What it does
Our VR game aims to give a taste of programming to young girls by letting them code their own game in virtual reality, giving them control of the game mechanics. In our game space, there is a simple algorithm on control panel with conditions missing. For example:
If you are on ---, then move ---. Else if you are on ---, then move ---.
To fill in the blanks, the user needs to look at the game floor, and where the bunny is. Then, the user will need to look for the code blocks that have the right condition in order to move the bunny towards the desired goal. This is done by exploring through the Virtual Reality space and shooting the code blocks as she sees them.
How we built it
First, we designed the game space, components and user experience. We also designed the UI so that it is dedicated and friendly to girls. We wanted our game to exist in 3D Virtual Reality space so we coded with C# in Unity engine. Then we deployed it to Oculus Rift, and made the shoots and camera space correspond to the VR headset instead of the 2D Canvas.
Challenges we ran into
None of us had experience with Unity, Oculus Rift, VR or C#. It was a great challenge to figure out how each of those components work, how the connections work, in addition to designing a game that fits our objective and implementing the game itself in 30 hours.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud to have finished a fully functional game floor from start to finish, and it looks great in VR space! In addition, apart from the bunny graphics, everything in our space is designed and rendered from scratch by us (even things like the shooting cursor, control panel, shooting ball layers), we didn't use any framework.
What we learned
Unity is sometimes a pain to work with, but it's also really fun!
What's next for Down the Rabbit Code
We will have more algorithms and game spaces introduced, with different levels and varying engagements so that young girls may feel that they've been familiar with programming and computer engineering since a young age.