Mazda Netherlands wanted to make something new for their dealer days. Something that suits the media package that Mazda car dealers receive for such events. And something that adds extra experience for people in the showroom during those dealer days. Together with Mazda, we came up with a VR game in which you as a driver experience how the car makes driving easier and more enjoyable by taking over all kinds of things from you. Think of J.A.R.V.I.S., the digital assistant pf Tony Stark aka Iron Man: a neat, informal sounding AI with a touch of humor that provides support at just the right time.
Starting point was to replace an existing racing game. Mazda had built an Xbox console in an old car with which you could play that game from the driver's seat. During a brainstorming session with the product owner and a Mazda technician, a new idea came up: a self-driving car. A Mazda has all kinds of hidden features that support driving unnoticed. In virtual reality we could let people experience this for themselves. After all, how do you better realize what someone else is doing for you, by having to do it yourself? So we developed the concept of having the driver and Mazda switch roles in a VR game. We made a script in which a J.A.R.V.I.S. like computer is the co-player. And we built a VR environment plus a 3D model of the car for the best possible experience of the game.
The game proceeds as follows. You sit in a kind of car seat, you get VR glasses and controls in your hands. Ready for a nice ride. You can steer, accelerate and brake yourself. If you are just driving, the Mazda introduces itself to you. He challenges you to change roles and takes over the wheel.
The Mazda is going to drive for a while, and you have to take over all the other functions that the car normally performs in the background. Cruise control, high beam control, adaptive cornering lights, Advanced Smart City Break Support, you name it. This does not happen all at once, but step by step you get a task with a brief explanation of what the feature does and what is expected of you. Each time the game gets more difficult. In the end it is not possible for a person to keep doing all things at the same time and so you 'lose' the game. As a player you learn how difficult it is to pay attention to all those things yourself, and how nice it is that the Mazda does this for you.
At the end, the Mazda takes over all the systems from you and you regain control of the steering wheel. "Actually, this works best. I take care of the convenience and safety, so that you can experience optimal driving pleasure. We both do what we do best. Man and machine in perfect harmony."