OpenMaze: An open-source toolbox for creating virtual navigation experiments

Behav Res Methods. 2022 Jun;54(3):1374-1387. doi: 10.3758/s13428-021-01664-9. Epub 2021 Sep 1.


Incorporating 3D virtual environments into psychological experiments offers an innovative solution for balancing experimental control and ecological validity. Their flexible application to virtual navigation experiments, however, has been limited because accessible development tools best support only a subset of desirable task design features. We created OpenMaze, an open-source toolbox for the Unity game engine, to overcome this barrier. OpenMaze offers researchers the ability to conduct a wide range of first-person spatial navigation experiment paradigms in fully customized 3D environments. Crucially, because all experiments are defined using human-readable configuration files, our toolbox allows even those with no prior coding experience to build bespoke tasks. OpenMaze is also compatible with a variety of input devices and operating systems, broadening its possible applications. To demonstrate its advantages and limitations, we review and contrast other available software options before providing an overview of our design objectives and walking the reader through the process of building an experiment in OpenMaze.

Keywords: Learning; Memory; Navigation; Spatial cognition; Unity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Software*
  • Spatial Navigation*