Growing up, both of us volunteered at our local food bank. Working there, it became obvious that although government assistance is sometimes available to people who are food insecure, food stamps rarely provide individuals with enough to sustain themselves. In this project, we highlight this very issue. Furthermore, we do so in an engaging way in the hope of teaching children and young adults this message.
What it does
In this simulation, you will be assigned a character and will be asked to choose what food they should buy for that day. The price of each item reflects the real-world price at a Walmart in the area that your character lives. After you make a selection from each food group, your monthly grocery bill will be calculated based on a combination of your choices and your character's caloric and dietary needs. You will then be shown how much extra money you had at the end of the month, or how much more money you would have needed to feed yourself. Will food stamps be enough?
How I built it
This VR experience was created using Unity and coded primarily in C#. We then integrated Unity with our Oculus Quest (although our code will run on any Oculus device). 3D images and music used are all open source (music directly from Unity and 3D images from https://free3d.com).
Challenges I ran into
Before starting this project, neither of us had any experience with VR. However, we wanted to gain experience in C# and Unity for future projects. This resulted in a large learning curve and presented many challenges when we first began. Integrating the Oculus Quest with Unity along with teaching ourselves C# syntax took quite a bit of time. That being said, we are very happy that we stuck with it :)
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
This was both of our teammates first time coding in C#, using Unity, and implementing a project using VR. We are very proud of our end result and the message behind it.
What I learned
We both became proficient in C#.
What's next for Food Stamp Simulation
Our project could be expanded in a variety of ways. Although our model only brings the participant through one day, a week may provide a more accurate and deeper comprehension of what it truly means to be food insecure. Furthermore, we hope to continue working on our graphics in order to make our simulation more appealing to our target audience -- children and young adults.