helping teen cancer patients cope with pain

video play button


Virtual Reality, Game Design


Game Designer, Visual Designer, User Researcher


Maya, Unity, Adobe Illustrator

Farmooo is a virtual reality farm simulation game designed to help with pain distraction for teenage cancer patients during chemotherapy treatment. As a final academic research project, a friend and I partnered with the SFU Pain Studies Lab and BC Children’s Hospital to deliver a game to give back to the hospital as we have been treated there regularly when we were sick kids.

farmooo prototype animation
farmooo mockup mobile image


With virtual reality technology growing, we seek an opportunity to create a game not for entertainment purposes, but something meaningful to help young teen cancer patients cope with the stress of chemotherapy treatment.

The project began with researching, reading, and learning about the medical and technical fields. I then synthesized the information so that I could merge the domains of virtual reality and pain distraction to come up with product ideas. Next, I had to compile a list of features and related tools necessary to produce an end product of a game. Afterwards, I sketched out ideas including screens, user flows, and characters to get feedback, where assets were then modelled in Maya. Alongside with the creative aspect, I also prepared ethic forms and questionnaires for a user study session. Throughout an iterative process, a farm theme arose to allude to a concept of hope and growth. There is also a cow companion in the virtual world which symbolizes that patients are not fighting the disease alone, but there are others around them who are supporting them.

farmooo world and character sketches farmooo interaction sketches

After implementing a minimal viable product, we presented the idea to the Oncology director at BC Children’s Hospital to get approval for user testing. The director was pleased with our effort and contribution to the hospital and allowed us to conduct user testing with outpatients. Ethics documents were compiled and we gathered 6 teenagers to help us test the game and give feedback.

user study session location methodology diagram

At the end, I gathered all the feedback and coded the scripts with the help of two assistants. Based on the discovery of related themes (virtual reality contents, gameplay, controls and drawbacks), a report was written to discuss the takeaways to make improvements.

game evaluation results graph virtual reality technology results graph
game setup

Moving forward, changes are to be made based on the feedback given by the teen outpatients so that another round of user testing can be done and eventually implement the game to the hospital.

To view more about this project, you can check out the blog.

This project has also been recognized across various press releases, at the Canadian Pain Society 2017 conference, and was awarded a Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 by the Surrey Board of Trade.

press release images
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