A tongue-in-cheek exploration into bad interfaces that translate existing design patterns into virtual reality.

I worked with a group to create the concept and ideas for the interactions. I also provided some visual assets. Nate Parrott coded all of it using three.js.

Project created with Nate Parrott, Atty Eleti, and Cecilia Bodin for Computer Utopias 2016.

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About the Project

Over the course of 3 weeks, we attempted to create a guide to making great VR experiences. We realized we couldn’t solve major problems with VR interactions, so instead we made an absurd representation of the many ways a VR experience could go wrong, just by implementing design patterns that are found in current screen and VR interfaces.


After a series of failed starts where we tried to come up with a VR idea that really resonated with people, we realized that the only thing we were certain about was how to make bad VR experiences. Making this our focus, we aimed to show how difficult it is to rely on previous design patterns when concepting interactions in VR.


Since we didn’t have access to any higher-spec VR devices, we created a project that could be viewed through a Google Cardboard. This meant that all our interactions needed to be contained to things they could do through vision and 3dof directions.

This project was also created in a short time frame and none of us knew anything about the 3D modeling/animation workflow, so we stuck to using very basic visuals.

Intrusive Popups

In the field of UX, there has been a trend of tracking eye movements—they tell you when a person is paying attention to a certain part of the design, often signaling your user’s intent and concentration. Why not create an object that requires you to physically look at the interactive aspect in order to manipulate it?


This shows the interaction that is necessary to close the popup—the user has to navigate their gaze to the cross in the top left corner in order to close it.

The ‘gaze’ is a 3D pointer that extrudes out of the center of the user’s vision. It acts the same as a mouse would on a regular desktop computer—a design pattern that most users will be familiar with.

Similarly, the cross in the top left corner is reminiscent of many apps on mobile phones and desktop computers.

In The Experience

In the experience, we selected strange memes to highlight the absurdity of the situation. While in this section of the experience, more and more pop ups come up, similar to how some websites pop up multiple advertisements.

Intrusive 3D Feeds

What does the neverending stream of statuses look like in virtual reality? Now that you aren't restricted by a screen, you can have more space to view all of these status updates.


New posts in the feed appear wherever you look—it’s impossible to stay away from being connected to your social media. There is no way to turn this off and there is no way to close out any of the This part of the experience is a look into how much more pervasive messaging can be when you’re put into VR.

In The Experience

While this looks the least like design patterns we see in our every day lives, it emulates the behavior of them. While in this section, a feed of messages continuously scrolls into your view, regardless of where you’re looking. Sound is also used for effect, with each message creating a sound so it’s even harder to ignore.

2D Screens in 3D Space

With virtual reality, we no longer are restricted by the edges of the screen. Why not play with space and have multiple screens for media that work best on a tabular surface?


You are simply surrounded by flat 2D planes with news articles on them. They curve around you, so no matter where you look, there is a new thing to look at.

In The Experience

This is an exploration of placing 2D screens into 3D space, much like most current VR experiences do at some point. To push the absurdity of the situation, we used VR-specific memes to come up with the content for the articles.

Natural or Intuitive Interactions

How can we harness known behaviors in order to make it clear what to do?


A popup window appears that users will most likely want to quickly exit in order to get back to the content. It has a 3D model of a generic caucasian male head, but brightly colored to draw attention.

In The Experience

While looking at content, a pop up comes up that requires users to shake their head to dismiss it. We learn from a very young age that nodding your head means ‘yes’, while shaking your head from side to side means ‘no’. Why can’t we take advantage of this common movement and make it an intuitive command for virtual reality? However, this quickly becomes annoying and even painful, especially when connected to multiple intrusive advertisements.

Disorienting Viral Experiences

With the prevalance of viral sites like Staggering Beauty, what kind of weird adventures could you have in VR?


Neon-colored objects and words start coming towards you on rails, but eventually start to rotate and tilt. Only a handful of people were able to keep the headset on for the entire experience.

In The Experience

Things tilt and distort within the scene. The horizon line itself rotates. This part of the sequence is meant to make you take the headset off. It’s an interesting test to see how long you can take it. Much like viral sites like Staggering Beauty, the whole point is to amuse.


Typefaces used are Caudex and Anaheim
Designed and coded by me, with extensive help from Stack Overflow

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