Virtual Reality (VR) exergames can increase engagement in and motivation for physical activities. Most VR exergames focus on the upper body because many VR setups only track the users' heads and hands. To become a serious alternative to existing exercise programs, VR exergames must provide a balanced workout and train the lower limbs, too. To address this issue, we built a VR exergame focused on vertical jump training to explore full-body exercise applications. To create a safe and effective training, nine domain experts participated in our prototype design. Our mixed-methods study confirms that the jump-centered exercises provided a worthy challenge and positive player experience, indicating long-term retention. Based on our findings, we present five design implications to guide future work: avoid an unintended forward drift, consider technical constraints, address safety concerns in full-body VR exergames, incorporate rhythmic elements with fluent movement patterns, adapt difficulty to players' fitness progression status.
Exploring virtual worlds together with others adds a social component to the Virtual Reality (VR) experience that increases connectedness. In the physical world, joint locomotion comes naturally through implicit intention communication and subsequent adjustments of the movement patterns. In VR, however, discrete locomotion techniques such as point&teleport come without prior intention communication, hampering the collective experience. Related work proposes fixed groups, with a single person controlling the group movement, resulting in the loss of individual movement capabilities. To close the gap and mediate between these two extremes, we introduce three intention communication methods and explore them with two baseline methods. We contribute the results of a controlled experiment (n=20) investigating these methods from the perspective of a leader and a follower in a dyadic locomotion task. Our results suggest shared visualizations support the understanding of movement intentions, increasing the group feeling while maintaining individual freedom of movement.
Object detection, while being an attractive interaction method for Augmented Reality (AR), is fundamentally error-prone due to the probabilistic nature of the underlying AI models, resulting in sub-optimal user experiences. In this paper, we explore the effect of three game design concepts, Ambiguity, Transparency, and Controllability, to provide better gameplay experiences in AR games that use error-prone object detection-based interaction modalities. First, we developed a base AR pet breeding game, called Bubbleu that uses object detection as a key interaction method. We then implemented three different variants, each according to the three concepts, to investigate the impact of each design concept on the overall user experience. Our user study results show that each design has its own strengths and can improve player experiences in different ways such as decreasing perceived errors (Ambiguity), explaining the system (Transparency), and enabling users to control the rate of uncertainties (Controllability).
Gamification is a popular technique to improve task engagement, and has broadly been deployed in health and education to a point where many users now expect gameful experiences in these settings. However, gamification has been criticised for being a potential obstacle to the experience of reflection. Motivated by this tension, our work examines how the addition of gamification to a Virtual Reality simulation of breastfeeding impacts player experience and reflection. Using a within-subjects design, we invited 34 participants to take part in a mixed-methods evaluation of a gamified and non-gamified variant of the simulation that included questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Results show that gamification improved player experience and encouraged players to reflect on goal achievement and performance. However, it also diverted players' attention from nuances within the act of nursing. Drawing on our findings, we contribute considerations for the application of gamification in personal and sensitive settings such as breastfeeding.
Technology, especially the smartphone, is villainized for taking meaning and time away from in-person interactions and secluding people into "digital bubbles''. We believe this is not an intrinsic property of digital gadgets, but evidence of a lack of imagination in technology design. Leveraging augmented reality (AR) toward this end allows us to create experiences for multiple people, their pets, and their environments. In this work, we explore the design of AR technology that "piggybacks'' on everyday leisure to foster co-located interactions among close ties (with other people and pets). We designed, developed, and deployed three such AR applications, and evaluated them through a 41-participant and 19-pet user study. We gained key insights about the ability of AR to spur and enrich interaction in new channels, the importance of customization, and the challenges of designing for the physical aspects of AR devices (e.g., holding smartphones). These insights guide design implications for the novel research space of co-located AR.
Consumer social virtual reality (VR) applications have recently started to enable social interactions at a distance. Yet it is still relatively unknown if and to what extent such applications provide meaningful social experiences in cases where in-person leisure activities are not feasible. To explore this, we developed a custom social VR application and conducted an exploratory lab study with 25 dyads in which we compared an in-person and a virtual version of a co-located multiplayer scenario. Our mixed-methods analysis revealed that both scenarios created a socially rich atmosphere and strengthened the social closeness between players. However, the lack of facial animations, limited body language, and a low field of view led to VR's main social experiential limitations: a reduced mutual awareness and emotional understanding compared to the in-person scenario. We derive implications for social VR design and research as well as game user research.