Things are Strange in the '80s: A Virtual Reality Experience

Video recording of the VR experience

What is the virtual reality experience "Things are Strange in the '80s"?

THINGS ARE STRANGE IN THE 80's is an interactive, first-person, virtual reality experience that allows you to experience the setting of Netflix’s hit TV show Stranger Things through a more critical lens. The decade of the ‘80s saw one of modern society’s larger, and most significant struggles. In this experience, we are presenting the user with the opportunity to empathize with an LBGTQ character by putting them in their shoes. The user would then experience discrimination within the school setting- a theme explored by the show itself.

Project Roles

Dana Richardson | Characters & Animation Design

Levi Gaidos | Sound, Narrative, & UX Design

Omar Alvarado | Environment Design

Narrative Design

As we knew we would only have time to design one scene of the Stranger Things experience, we chose to focus on the high school. As the user travels through the school, they are laughed at and made fun of. Once they get to their locker they are provided books that hold articles about being a member of the LGBTQ community in the 80’s. We strived to make the school look similar to that on the TV show, as well as we included other elements from the show within the experience, such as the sky and music. The writing on the books inside of the locker was not legible once we imported them into Unity, so we chose to add another scene that users could go into where they could read the articles.

Environment Design

We took inspiration from the series to imagine a hallway inside Hawkins High School. From the color patterns throughout the walls to the flooring and regalia. The initial floor plan was created using Rhinoceros 3D. Props such as lockers and desks were downloaded from websites such as sketchfab. The environment was then exported into a .3ds file into Unity, where textures were added and mapped. 

It was crucial to populate the hallway as much as possible to immerse the user in a busy setting. The sounds and added characters with their animations added to the final envoirment design. The books, skateboard, desks, chalkboards, and lockers all were downloaded and imported into Unity from the asset store.

Sound Design

In the opening scene, we included the Stranger Things theme song that will play until the user plays the game. For the high school scene, we chose to include sounds that would be heard in a normal high school, such as footsteps, talking students, and a bell. We also placed sounds onto the characters so it would be as if they are laughing, whispering, and talking about the user, as well as there are insults included that are made towards the user. 

Logo Design

The logo took the Stranger Things typeface-ITC Benguiat. Proportions, stroke behavior, and stroke width were replicated as much as possible. However, the original title is highly manicured and nuanced. A full study on how specific letters change due to leading is needed.

Character & Animation Design

The characters were downloaded from Mixamo. We wanted to make sure the characters looked young and as if they were from the 1980’s. The characters' animations were also downloaded from Mixamo. The above sequence of images are of a character we placed within the Unity Game Engine that had the laughing animation.