Cafe SereniTEA

Café SereniTea is a seated VR experience for the Oculus Quest. As the experience begins, a series of environmental stressors appear, resulting in a panic attack.

48 Hour Sprint June 2021

Project Overview

"Café SereniTea" is a seated VR experience designed for Oculus Quest, offering a unique perspective on panic attacks. It guides users through both the person experiencing a panic attack and a friend witnessing it. The experience fosters an understanding of panic attacks, self-regulation strategies, and peer support to neutralize environmental stressors.


Game Design
VR Development
Visual Design

Main Problems Addressed

  1. Recognizing and Assisting Panic Attacks: Enabling peers to effectively identify and de-escalate panic attacks by removing stressors.
  2. Influences of Environments on Panic Attacks: Understanding how environmental factors affect the onset and severity of panic attacks.
  3. Rising Social Anxiety: Addressing the increased social anxiety due to COVID-19, where individuals need to manage stress in the absence of professional support.


Our solution, "Café SereniTea," immerses users in a unique journey that includes:

  • Experiencing Panic Attacks Firsthand: Users begin as the person having the panic attack, practicing self-regulation strategies, including breathing exercises, recalling positive memories, and focusing on neutral objects.
  • Supporting Friends During Panic Attacks: The perspective shifts to that of a friend witnessing the same panic attack. Users learn how to recognize and neutralize environmental stressors through actions such as steering conversations, adjusting music volume, and diverting attention.

User Story

In "Café SereniTea," users first assume the role of an observer and then transition into the shoes of "Friend 1," who experiences a panic attack. As "Friend 1," they interact with their surroundings in a café setting but soon encounter the distressing symptoms of a panic attack: blurred vision, heightened heart rate, and an overwhelming environment.

That's when "Friend 2," their supportive companion, intervenes. "Friend 2" suggests actions such as breathing exercises, focusing on objects, and recalling positive memories to help "Friend 1" regain composure. With these actions, "Friend 1" manages the panic attack and proceeds to complete their order. Users then switch roles and become "Friend 2," observing "Friend 1's" panic attack, asking about symptoms, and assisting in taking appropriate actions.

Actions and Effects

When the panic attack sets in, actions become crucial. "Friend 1" can choose to focus on specific objects, reducing blurred vision and calming their heart rate. They can also recall happy memories, filtering out overwhelming auditory stimuli and regaining composure. Fixating on a neutral object helps correct tunnel vision and regain focus. As "Friend 2," users steer conversations away from stressful topics, lowering their friend's heart rate. Adjusting the café's music volume helps filter auditory stimuli. Diverting unwanted attention from the table corrects tunnel vision for the friend, enabling them to complete the order. These actions form a critical part of the virtual reality experience in "Café SereniTea," enhancing understanding and empathy for those experiencing panic attacks.

Design Process

"Café SereniTea" was brought to life through an intense 48-hour sprint, crafted during an XR Jam where the project team united virtually from different locations.

  • Conceptualization: The project's inception revolved around creating a seated virtual reality experience that tackled the often-misunderstood world of panic attacks. The team collectively envisioned a journey where users could walk in the shoes of both the person undergoing a panic attack and the supportive friend witnessing it.
  • Development: Despite geographical distances, the team worked tirelessly to construct the virtual café environment, enabling seamless interactions and crafting the visual effects of a panic attack. The integration of role transitions, from observer to "Friend 1" and "Friend 2," was a pivotal achievement, allowing users to live the experience from multiple angles.
  • Art and Sound: Designing the visual elements to effectively communicate the panic attack experience was a significant focus. Distorted visual and audio effects were meticulously curated, ensuring an immersive and educational journey for the users.
  • Testing and Refinement: The development team invested a significant amount of time rigorously testing the experience. User feedback became a driving force for improvements, fine-tuning the actions and their effects, ultimately making the journey as impactful as possible.
  • Presentation: "Café SereniTea" emerged as a testament to the collaborative spirit of a virtual team meeting in an XR Jam. The project's purpose, to elevate awareness about panic attacks and mental health support, stands as a remarkable achievement that showcases not only technical expertise but also empathy and dedication.


Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Photoshop


Brandon Sands
Manouj Kumar
Rachel De Paz
Tianyun Wang
Zevensuy Rodriguez