The United States Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, found that travel limitations, such as cost, had hindered their ability to recruit to all potential cadets and wanted to find an effective recruitment method that would eliminate any inconvenience to these potential cadets or their families.
The United States Air Force Academy researched virtual campus tours and found that they wanted more than a website with picture and videos, but rather wanted provide a truly immersive virtual campus tour experience.
USAFA found that virtual worlds could offer the ability to have a 3D virtual campus where potential cadets could walk around and learn about culture, size, and beauty of the campus by being an avatar. However, after their research they found that commercial and open source client-based platforms that exist are quite cumbersome for novice users and have a large learning curve.
Designing Digitally, Inc. decided the best solution for this Virtual Word campus tour would be to build a completely customized browser based MMO with a high end gaming engine which allowed all features and interactions as well as the interface and MMO framework to be tailored to meet the client’s needs. Rather than customizing the project to meet the requirements of a specific virtual world platform, the platform was customized to meet the requirements of the project. This fully immersive 3D virtual campus tour allows students to access the campus quickly and easily with a URL through any major browser.
Potential cadets have the ability to tour the campus on their own, and can also attend individual or group tours with an admissions representative who is able to showcase all of the Academy’s features. Clues, trivia, and non-playing characters provide additional information about all the Academy has to offer. Interactive games such as basketball, hockey, parachute, flight simulator, and more offer a fun and engaging medium to keep cadets coming back to learn more. Points from trivia and games allow for the purchase of USAFA branded virtual apparel and accessories , including the top prize - the mascot uniform.
Cadets are able to access the application quickly and easily through the virtual campus tour once they have decided USAFA is the right place for them.
The development of the 3D virtual campus tour MMO for the United States Air Force Academy has proven to be a valued addition to the recruitment process with over 1,000 potential cadets in the system within the first few months. This is a groundbreaking development in the higher education industry and the USAFA is excited to be at the forefront.