Chatham Views

Introduction to Virtual Reality Experience Design

image capture from a final VR project from student Camila Centeno-Bonnet

“See, the world is full of things more powerful than us. But if you know how to catch a ride, you can go places.” – Neal Stephenson – Snow Crash

We assume that Stephenson was not talking about Chatham’s forthcoming Bachelor of Arts in Immersive Media program (applications for fall ’19 now being accepted), but he may as well have been: graduates will be prepared to work in some of the world’s most exciting fields–gaming, travel, entertainment, education, travel, and more.

It’s all about creating content that’s a joy to interact with. A cornerstone course is a two-semester journey called Introduction to Virtual Reality Experience Design. We asked instructor Doug North Cook for a look inside the course. Here’s what he said:

“We started by reading Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk epic Snow Crash to help us see the future we are now living in from a different angle. Since then, most of our time has been spent exploring new virtual environments, creating, and talking to creators.

For example, talking with the producers of Job Simulator–the biggest VR game of 2016–let us get the inside scoop on how to think about creating VR experiences that are for everyone. Here’s a look at Job Simulator:

^ a glimpse of the wild fun of Job Simulator

When creating, we tried to spend as much time in VR as we could. Lack of prior training wasn’t a problem, as tools like Oculus Medium made it easy to build 3d assets (like the one below) and then bring them straight into our projects.

^ A 3d sculpt by Camila Centeno

Games, stories, technical demos, art galleries….we built them all and then some. This semester, the whole class is working collaboratively, with industry mentorship, to build a single VR experience. Students are taking on roles as audio producers, programmers, project managers, 3d artists, and capture artists to make their world come to life. I can’t wait to see where they take us.”

Below is a VR project made by Madison Krob.


Introduction to Virtual Reality Experience Design is a cornerstone course in Chatham’s Bachelor of Arts in Immersive Media program, launching in Fall 2019.