Fireflies is a 3 DoF VR experience that I designed during my first year as an artist at BehaVR, in 2019. All of the artwork was optimized to perform on the now retired Oculus Go headset—the original target platform. I developed the concept, created the artwork, and designed most aspects of the experience (with the exception of the bug gun mechanic, which was an idea presented by my teammate and collaborator).
Fireflies exists in several BehaVR products, but the first version was created for RecoVRy—an addiction recovery augmentation program developed in collaboration with Bradford Health. The game was created as a tool for practicing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in VR. Before playing the game for the first time, players watch a 2D animated short which illustrates some basic CBT concepts. I created the art and animation for two of these videos—one for RecoVRy and another for a product focusing on stress relief.
At the start of the game, players are presented with a hypothetical triggering situation (e.g. “Someone makes fun of you for being sober…”). The core gameplay then involves catching “fireflies” which represent the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors someone might have in response to that situation. There are three jars, each repenting a corner of the cognitive triangle. Players have to catch three fireflies in each jar in order to win the game. A bug gun is used to select words which manifest as fireflies in the jars; it has a “vacuum” mode for pulling words toward the player, and a “blower” mode for pushing undesired words out of the way. Fireflies can only be captured if the player focuses on healthy and empowering thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Choosing words rooted in anxiety or self-destruction results in fireflies escaping and increases the difficulty of the game by showing a larger percentage of negative words.
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