IAT 445: Immersive Environments

Course Description

In this project-based course, you will use an immer­sion frame­work to design, create, and eval­u­ate immer­sive vir­tual envi­ron­ments and the inter­ac­tion between the user and the vir­tual envi­ron­ment. To do this, we will com­bine hands-on fun­da­men­tals with inter­ac­tion, ani­ma­tion, and immer­sive vir­tual real­ity design and the­o­ret­i­cal and research con­cerns. Your project will serve to both moti­vate and implement/showcase these aspects. The course will cul­mi­nate in a final inter­ac­tive project show­case and project pitch (oral/video) of your team project.

see SFU’s Teaching & Learning blog for a news story on my first offer­ing of this course in 2013, enti­tled: “How a SIAT course in immer­sive envi­ron­ments exposed stu­dents to the real world

Spring 2022 offering (in-person)


Virtual Experiences - Real Impact: VR4Good IAT 445 Project showcase, Tuesday April 12

on Tuesday April 12, the stu­dents from my course on “immer­sive envi­ron­ments” (IAT 445) will be pre­sent­ing their final VR projects that they worked on for this semester.The topic was Impact: Using immer­sive expe­ri­ence design to con­tribute to mean­ing­ful solu­tions to real-world chal­lenges. That is: what is a topic that you (and your team) care very deeply about that would help create a better world? A topic you care about so deeply about that it might be worth making a purposeful/transformative immer­sive VR expe­ri­ence out of it?

You have 2 options to participate:

In-person VR showcase: 2-4pm

where you get a chance to try out the dif­fer­ent VR expe­ri­ences your­self, talk to the project cre­ators, and mingle with other visitors!

Located on the SFU Surrey campus, in room 3140, see direc­tions, and the map below).

note: VR head­sets will be cleaned before each usage. Please wear a mask to keep every­body safe.

Live-streamed online showcase: 4:30 - 6pm: Zoom link

  • 4:30pm: Introductions from Instructor and TA, overview of the course and the projects in the showcase
  • 4:40 — 6:00: Project trail­ers & live team inter­view. Moderated VR show­case fea­tur­ing video trail­ers, video footage from the VR expe­ri­ences,  and live inter­views with the VR designers
    • Team 1–1 4:40
    • Team 1–2 4:55
    • Team 2–1   5:10
    • Team 2–3   5:25
    • Team 2–3 5:40
  • after­wards: Closing:  Final Q&A, audi­ence ques­tions, closing

if you missed the show­case, here’s a recording:

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IAT 445 showcase poster - 2022 Spring 11x17_V2

IAT 499 showcase how to get there SRYC 3140

Details about the VR Projects:


Nobody duels at high noon…without a good reason

Website of Team 1–1

Razor: A narrative driven experience where players will embody different characters in a town held frozen in time by a standoff to discover what has happened, and that everyone has their own version of the story to tell.team11_123277_18763559_IAT445 Poster

Trouble is brew­ing at high noon, and every­one has taken a side. You’ll explore each facet of the con­flict by jump­ing into the shoes of anyone in town. Navigate chal­leng­ing per­spec­tives to move deeper into the nar­ra­tive, and between the char­ac­ters in town. When the clock­tower hits 12, and ham­mers fall, who will you stand with?

Video trailer:

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Full project video:

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West City

Green or Grey? You Decide.

Website of Team 1–2

Razor: Players will understand, value, and experience what it’s like to re-immersify themselves in nature after spending prolonged time in an urbanized areateam12_LATE_179048_18764821_WestCityFinal

Reconnect is an envi­ron­men­tal nature expe­ri­ence where users engage with an envi­ron­ment that has 2 dif­fer­ent forms. With the choice to switch between urban and nat­ural envi­ron­ments, users ponder the debate of — is urban­iza­tion bad?

Video trailer:

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Full project video:

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More than just a cute pet

Website of Team 2–1

Razor: An explorative VR experience that allows the user to witness the tragic lives of 4 dogs that were abandoned in a shelterteam21_138278_18762451_poster iat 445

Sheltered Pasts is an immer­sive VR expe­ri­ence that takes the user through a crowded animal shel­ter. As the user approaches the cages, the unimag­in­able hap­pens. The user is trans­formed into the dog, and they get to see the world from their point of view. The user will wit­ness the tragic past that put the dog in its cage today.

Video trailer:

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Full project video:

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Darkness in the Corner

Women chained in dark corners, who hears your cries?

Website of Team 2–2

Razor: A narrative-driven VR experience adapted from real-world cases that immerse the player as a trafficked woman, who is seeking to escape from her darkest days in a village in an unknown place and back to her normal life.team22 poster

Darkness in the Corner is a VR role-playing game about the topic of woman traf­fick­ing. By get­ting into another place in the world and being another person, play­ers would need to observe, think, col­lect, risk, and make sure not to be found by the people who brought the woman here, to solve any chal­lenges and dan­gers, and suc­cess­fully escape from where she is locked in and reveal the evil­ness hidden in the cor­ners that no one knows.

Video trailer:

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Full project video:

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Let’s nurture nature for a better futur

Website of Team 2–3

Razor: An open-world adventure VR experience that allows the immersant to traverse and protect a forest with the ability to see into the future.team23_62021_18762027_Foresight Final Project Poster

Foresight is a VR expe­ri­ence that reflects upon the impacts of cli­mate change, specif­i­cally defor­esta­tion and how human activ­i­ties have irre­versible con­se­quences on the planet. Embodying a char­ac­ter who has the abil­ity to switch between present and future time­lines, imm­er­sants will be able to unveil clues from the future to pre­vent the destruc­tion of the forest. Our team aims to incite reflec­tion within the imm­er­sants through the stark visual con­trast in colours and life through switch­ing time­lines, along with a fox com­pan­ion that assists the imm­er­sant through­out their journey.

project trailer video

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Full project video:

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Project Posters

Impressions from Showcase

Documentation from earlier course offerings and showcases

(first taught in Spring 2013)


Course Objectives, Learning Goals & Outcomes

In this course, you will learn and be pre­pared to:

  1. Examine the his­tory and con­cep­tual frame­works sur­round­ing “immer­sion” and “immer­sive­ness” and what this means for dig­i­tal immer­sive envi­ron­ments and their users.
  2. Apply a con­cep­tual frame­work in rela­tion to your own immer­sive project/experience and use it to cri­tique other immer­sive projects.
  3. Demonstrate mod­er­ate pro­fi­ciency using appro­pri­ate soft­ware (cur­rently: Unity) to design and build inter­ac­tive (includ­ing user inter­ac­tion and ani­ma­tion) immer­sive 3D vir­tual envi­ron­ments and expe­ri­ences and dis­play them on off-the-shelf com­pu­ta­tional devices/displays such as head-mounted dis­plays (HMDs). Be able to present and explain your project and under­ly­ing code to others, and explain/defend your design deci­sions and how they are based on rel­e­vant frameworks/theories.
  4. Reflect on and apply suit­able agile processes and team-based, col­lab­o­ra­tive prac­tices used in VR expe­ri­ence design includ­ing ideation, project goal-setting and scop­ing, pro­to­typ­ing, iter­a­tive revi­sions, user testing/evaluating, and crit­i­cal reflec­tion as the base for an iter­a­tive and col­lab­o­ra­tive VR design cycle. This includes find­ing ways to effec­tively address chal­lenges that can occur in team-based envi­ron­ments while being respect­ful and con­struc­tive. (This could include col­lab­o­ra­tively resolv­ing chal­lenges that com­monly occur in team-based projects, such as bal­anc­ing between leading/following, com­mu­ni­ca­tion chal­lenges, con­flicts that arise, ensur­ing all team mem­bers con­tribute mean­ing­fully, engag­ing all team mem­bers, ensur­ing all care for the project and each other, get­ting people on the same page, and fig­ur­ing out a shared vision/purpose that all can care about).
  5. Argue how this effec­tively takes advan­tage of the unique affor­dance of immer­sive VR to foster user expe­ri­ences that would oth­er­wise be impos­si­ble (or not as easily acces­si­ble), to impact users’ emo­tions, cognition/perspective and/or behav­ior in a pos­i­tive direction

What’s in it for you?

You will learn how to design, build, and iter­a­tively refine an immer­sive and inter­ac­tive VR expe­ri­ence that should blow the user away and pos­i­tively affect them in a mean­ing­ful way. To do this, you will use the pop­u­lar Unity 3D game engine and guid­ance from an immer­sion frame­work. You will most likely be imple­ment­ing this for head-mounted dis­plays so you’ll be able to show­case it wher­ever you go – includ­ing your next job inter­view and your next party. Combining a public project show­case with an exec­u­tive sum­mary and a final project video can fur­ther improve your resume/portfolio and marketability.