A Virtual Step towards Ecological Sustainability : Nudging people to reflect on their everyday actions through VR experiences
Abstract: With an attempt to connect ecological sustainability to users in a fun and interactive way that can nudge them into reflection of their everyday actions, this design research project tries to answer the main research question: How might we use immersive experiences in virtual environments to nudge participants into reflection; specifically, on climate change and sustainable behaviour? The available context, both in terms of climate change and the opportunity that exists in the communication of it; along with the design tools and good practices available were studied. Different design methodologies were reviewed to formulate a personalised yet well-grounded method, that was followed in this project. Through the use of these methodologies, a concept and two versions of the prototype were developed using Unity. These versions were tested with participants for the impact, and the quantitative and qualitative data that was gathered from the testing were analysed using statistical and thematic methods, respectively. From the analysis of the data, it became clear that this was just one little step that opens up more extensive research in this area. It can be concluded that VR can be thought of as an empathy generator due to its almost-unreal ability to transport users into any virtual space and make it feel like they are there. This ability of VR must be exploited to raise public empathy by taking abstract environmental concepts and make them more visible and relatable to everybody.
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