Designing digital vertigo experiences

Byrne, R 2018, Designing digital vertigo experiences, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Byrne.pdf Thesis application/pdf 27.35MB
Title Designing digital vertigo experiences
Author(s) Byrne, R
Year 2018
Abstract Many people enjoy “vertigo” sensations caused by intense playful bodily activities; examples of such activities include spinning in circles, riding fairground rides, and driving fast cars. Game scholar Caillois calls the associated experiences “vertigo play”, elucidating that these enjoyable activities are a result of confusion between sensory channels. In Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), designers often attempt to avoid causing sensory confusion as it can be associated with a negative user experience. I believe this has led to a lack of understanding surrounding how to transition and extend Caillois' thinking from analogue games and play to the digital realm. However, with more digital games focusing on the body through technologies such as motion sensors and head mounted displays, an opportunity to understand how to design digital vertigo games has arisen. Understanding this will allow designers to create novel and intriguing digital bodily experiences inspired by traditional vertigo play activities. This thesis explores this opportunity by answering the research question: “How do we design digital vertigo experiences?” I developed and studied three different experiences to answer this research question. The first game, “Inner Disturbance”, is a single player game where sensory confusion is facilitated by manipulating a player's vestibular sense of balance through Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS). The second game, “Balance Ninja”, uses GVS to extend sensory confusion across two players through a feedback loop, whereby the lateral movements of each player affects the GVS system of the opposing player. In the final game, “AR Fighter”, Head Mounted Displays confuse players’ visual sense as a result of the opposing player's movements. Studies of the player experience of the three games led to the development of the Digital Vertigo Experience Framework. This framework, which presents designers with the first understanding of how to design digital vertigo experiences, contains two axes: amount of surrendered body agency, and extent of facilitated sensory confusion. The framework is split into four digital vertigo user experience areas: more daring, more overwhelming, more predictable, and more nauseating. Designers are encouraged to stay within these areas to avoid causing one of four possible risks to players: risk of physical injury, sensory overload, boredom, and nausea. With this work, I aim to bring the excitement of traditional vertigo play experiences to the digital world, guiding designers in their creation. Offering an increased understanding of digital vertigo play experiences will allow designers to create more engaging and exciting body-based games, and provide players with more possibilities to enjoy novel and exciting bodily-play experiences.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Subjects Digital and Interaction Design
Computer-Human Interaction
Keyword(s) Vertigo
Exertion games
Human-computer interaction
Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation
Augmented reality
Sensory confusion
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Created: Thu, 24 May 2018, 11:27:24 EST by Adam Rivett
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