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Increasing User Engagement in Virtual Reality:The Role of Interactive Digital Narratives to Trigger Emotional Responses

25 Oct 2020-

TL;DR: A significant increase in the participants’ level of engagement in the narrative-based environment compared to the non-narrative VR environment is observed, showing that IDN can be considered an essential factor in shaping the positive experience of end-users, thus shaping a better society.
Abstract: Immersive multimedia technologies such as virtual reality (VR) create narrative experiences in the digital medium, thus revolutionizing how people communicate, learn, and think. These Interactive Digital Narratives (IDN) shape end-users’ experience with a broad potential for various applications. A fundamental aspect of achieving this potential is the establishment of a positive and engaging user experience. This study investigates how enabling the interactive narrative in a VR setting affects the engagement of the users. The study we base this work on involved thirty-two participants in a controlled experiment where they were asked to explore a designed VR environment, with and without a digital narrative. We observed a significant increase in the participants’ level of engagement in the narrative-based environment compared to the non-narrative VR environment. The results showed how the IDN in VR generates an increased emotional response, strengthening the users’ engagement, showing that IDN can be considered an essential factor in shaping the positive experience of end-users, thus shaping a better society.
Topics: Virtual reality (54%), User experience evaluation (53%), Narrative (51%)

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Increasing User Engagement in Virtual Reality:The Role of
Interactive Digital Narratives to Trigger Emotional Responses
Shafaq Irshad
Department of Electronic Systems, Faculty of Information
Technology and Electrical Engineering, Norwegian
University of Science and Technology
Norway
shafaq.irshad@ntnu.no
Andrew Perkis
Department of Electronic Systems, Faculty of Information
Technology and Electrical Engineering, Norwegian
University of Science and Technology, Norway
andrew.perkis@ntnu.no
ABSTRACT
Immersive multimedia technologies such as virtual reality (VR)
create narrative experiences in the digital medium, thus revolution-
izing how people communicate, learn, and think. These Interactive
Digital Narratives (IDN) shape end-users’ experience with a broad
potential for various applications. A fundamental aspect of achiev-
ing this potential is the establishment of a positive and engaging
user experience. This study investigates how enabling the interac-
tive narrative in a VR setting aects the engagement of the users.
The study we base this work on involved thirty-two participants in a
controlled experiment where they were asked to explore a designed
VR environment, with and without a digital narrative. We observed
a signicant increase in the participants’ level of engagement in
the narrative-based environment compared to the non-narrative
VR environment. The results showed how the IDN in VR generates
an increased emotional response, strengthening the users’ engage-
ment, showing that IDN can be considered an essential factor in
shaping the positive experience of end-users, thus shaping a better
society.
CCS CONCEPTS
Human-centered computing User studies
;
Virtual real-
ity; Hardware Emerging tools and methodologies.
KEYWORDS
Virtual Reality; Experience Design; User experience evaluation;
User experience design; Immersive Multimedia Experiences; Inter-
active Digital Narrative; Engagement; presence
ACM Reference Format:
Shafaq Irshad and Andrew Perkis. 2020. Increasing User Engagement in
Virtual Reality:The Role of Interactive Digital Narratives to Trigger Emo-
tional Responses. In Proceedings of the 11th Nordic Conference on Human-
Computer Interaction: Shaping Experiences, Shaping So ciety (NordiCHI ’20),
October 25–29, 2020, Tallinn, Estonia. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 4 pages.
https://doi.org/10.1145/3419249.3421246
Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or
classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed
for prot or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation
on the rst page. Copyrights for third-party components of this work must be honored.
For all other uses, contact the owner/author(s).
NordiCHI ’20, October 25–29, 2020, Tallinn, Estonia
© 2020 Copyright held by the owner/author(s).
ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-7579-5/20/10.
https://doi.org/10.1145/3419249.3421246
1 INTRODUCTION
Interactive Digital Narrative (IDN) is a form of digital interac-
tive experience in which users create or inuence the storyline
through their actions [
12
]. These digitally augmented stories or
narrations play an essential role in passing information through
interactive digital media hence inaugurating a new form of sto-
rytelling called Interactive Digital Narrative [
10
]. IDN has revo-
lutionized the way people communicate, learn, and think. When
incorporated in modern-day immersive multimedia technologies
such as Virtual Reality (VR), IDN can be used to enhance learning
and training through various applications and platforms such as
serious gamication.
VR is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place
within a simulated virtual environment [
16
]. It incorporates audi-
tory and visual feedback but may also allow other types of sensory
feedback such as haptic. Because of this sensory feedback, the
user becomes visually immersed in a computer-generated three-
dimensional VR scene [
14
]. The past several decades have seen an
onset of interest in VR technologies, with this multifaceted domain
becoming a central concern in a wide range of disciplinary elds
and research contexts [
4
]. VR has become inherently interactive,
and their dependence on narrative has gradually increased [
13
]. VR
can now be used to provide learners with a virtual environment
where they can develop their skills through IDN without real-world
consequences [5].
Several studies have been performed on evaluation of perfor-
mance, quality modelling and assessment of VR [
2
,
3
,
15
]. Re-
searchers have also proposed various strategies and metrics for
VR systems evaluation[
7
]. Similarly, there is work on dening ,
designing and evaluating IDN in VR [
1
,
11
]. Studies have been
done in dening the dimensions and underlining concepts of VR
experiences[
16
], however, few researchers have worked on mod-
elling and assessing the experience resulting from using immersive
and interactive digital narratives (IDN)[
6
] There are not many stud-
ies present that address the inuence of IDN and storytelling on
VR systems and how it shapes the end user experience. In order to
produce positive VR , IDN needs to be incorporated in the design
[6].
This research presents design and evaluation of a virtual real-
ity serious game and demonstrates how incorporating IDN in VR
serious gaming can shape a better experience and understanding
for end users. The research study is part of a project where we
intend to create digital twins of natural hazards with knowledge
on interactive digital storytelling and human behavior to create
immersive user experiences based on real data, realistic scenarios

NordiCHI ’20, October 25–29, 2020, Tallinn, Estonia
(a) Non-narrative based VR experience
(b) Narrative based VR experience
(c) tunnel
Figure 1: Immersive environments showing non-narrative vs narrative VR setups
and simulations. Experiences derived from the VR will be used for
preventive and emergency measures to save lives and cost thus
shaping society in a better way. In the following paper our goal is
to measures the inuence of IDN on a VR environment through
subjective user evaluation . The main objective of this research is
to explore how IDN aect the user experience in an immersive VR
environment in terms of user engagement. This is done through
an experimental study where subjective evaluations are performed
in VR with two groups i.e. non-narrative based controlled group
(G1-NN) vs the narrative-based experimental group (G2-N). The
following sections present the detailed methodology, results and
discussion of the experimental study.
2 METHODOLOGY
2.1 Participants
Our research is done by using participants in a controlled experi-
ment generating data to be analyzed. Our experiment comprised
32 participants between the ages of 25 and 44 (56.25% of them were
male and 43.75% were females). Participants were recruited based
on their familiarity with computer technologies such as VR. Almost
all the participants were skilled in using the computer to some
extent, with 43.8% being intermediate users.
2.2 Experimental Setup and Design
VR experience was delivered using a standalone Oculus Go head-
mounted display (HMD). Although Oculus Go is a standalone HMD,
it has all the components required to provide a fully immersive VR
experience. The VR test environment was designed and developed
in the Unity game engine installed on a high-performance DELL
Opti-Plex 7060. A within-group or repeated measures experimental
design was followed where the same participants (n=32) were asked
to perform both experiments to test for the level of engagement
inside G1-NN vs. G2-N. The independent variables of the study were
narrative and non-narrative VR immersive environments. The level
of engagement inside the VR was used as the dependent variable.
To deal with the order eect, we altered the order in which the
participants performed the experiment in each group. Therefore,
the order of the two groups was counterbalanced [8].
Group 1 participated in a non-narrative based VR experience in
which the user was presented with a real-world landscape designed
in the Unity game engine. The landscape showcased part of a small
village Utvik, located in Vestland county, Norway, as shown in Fig-
ure 1a. An audio track of natural surroundings was embedded in
the VR environment to make it immersive and realistic. Participants
were free to interact with the surrounding environment; however,
they were not asked to perform any specic tasks. Group 2 partici-
pated in a narrative-based VR experience. It was the same landscape
used in Group 1 (as shown in Figure 1b); however, a narrative was
attached to it in such a way that the participants could perform the
required tasks inside VR. The participants were presented with a
scenario that they are in a small village where ooding is about to
happen. Participants were asked to nd and enter an underground
tunnel and wait for the rescue team to extract them. In this VR test
environment, the sound of emergency alarms was also embedded
to strengthen the IDN presented to the users. Figure 1b and 1c show
overview of the narrative-based VR environment.
The measures of engagement, determined by media content and
media form variables (from the ITC-Sense of Presence Inventory
questionnaire [
9
]), were used to evaluate the levels of engagement.
The scale included several items about engagement i.e., user in-
volvement, interest in the content of the displayed environment,
their general enjoyment of the VR media experience, attention, in-
volvement in the VR, the content of the presentation appeal, arousal,
and emotions. Participants used a consistent scoring mechanism
(1–5 point Likert scale ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly
agree") to rate their experience after experiencing the VR.
2.3 Procedures
Volunteered participants were invited to take part in the study.
Each participant lled a consent form and demographic information
before starting the experiment. Participants were given detailed
instructions and a brief demo on using the Oculus Go HMD and
touch controller before continuing the experiments. However, they
were not made aware of the goal of the experiment to prevent
biased results. Participants were asked to wear Oculus Go headsets
and explore two experimental conditions in random order. All the
participants performed both the experiments. Participants in Group
1 were asked to explore and interact with the environment; however,
no particular tasks were assigned. Participants in Group 2 were
asked to perform a set of tasks i.e., nd an underground tunnel
and remove the obstructions to enter the tunnel to save themselves
from the ood. After the experiment, they were asked to ll the
questionnaire. Approximate time for each experiment per user with
the questionnaire took 25-30 minutes to complete. At the end of

IDN in VR NordiCHI ’20, October 25–29, 2020, Tallinn, Estonia
Table 1: Summary statistics for two groups (N=32) with 95% condence interval (where LB stand for lower bound and UP stands
for upper bound).
N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error 95% CI for Mean Min. Max.
LB UP
Group1 32 3.2212 0.66768 0.11803 2.9804 3.4619 1.85 4.62
Group2 32 3.8654 0.63583 0.11240 3.6361 4.0946 2.08 4.85
Total 64 3.5433 0.72367 0.09046 3.3625 3.7240 1.85 4.85
Table 2: Results of Indep endent Samples T-Test with 95% Condence Interval (CI)
Independent Samples Test
Levene’s Test t-test for Equality of Means
F Sig. t df Sig.
(2-tailed)
Mean
Di
Std.
Error
95% CI of Di
LB UP
Engagement
Equal variances
assumed
0.609 0.438 3.953 62 0.00 0.644 0.162 0.970 0.318
Equal variances
not assumed
3.953 61.85 0.000 0.644 0.162 0.970 0.318
the experiment, all subjects were debriefed about the experiment’s
aim and rewarded with a cinema ticket.
3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Outliers were removed from the obtained data before performing
the statistical analysis. Summary statistics of the data was com-
puted, as shown in Table 1 with a 95% condence interval. An
independent Sample T-Test was performed to compare engagement
in Group 1 (controlled) and Group 2 (experimental) VR test envi-
ronment. Results showed that there was a signicant dierence in
the mean scores for G1-NN with Mean=3.2212 and SD=0.11803; and
controlled group (G2-N) with Mean=3.8654 and SD=0.11240 with t
(62)=3.953 and p = 0.00000052. Results show that engagement for
the two groups signicantly diered in almost all the analyzed de-
pendent variables. Table 2 shows the detailed results of independent
Sample T-Test performed for the two groups.
To determine whether the dierences between group means
were statistically signicant, we compared the p-value to the sig-
nicance level (
α
= 0.05) to assess the null hypothesis (H0). H0
states that engagement means are equal for the two groups. The
p-value was less than the signicance level, so the null hypothesis
was rejected. It was concluded that the level of engagement for
narrative vs. non-narrative VR experiences is not equal. By exam-
ining the group means to check if the dierences were statistically
signicant, condence intervals for the dierences of means were
assessed. From the results, it was concluded that participants expe-
rienced more signicant levels of engagement in the VR experience
with IDN. From Figure 2 (see appendix A), it was observed that
involvement, enjoyment, and appeal had the most signicant dif-
ference in means with G1-NN having a less mean value than G2-N
VR test environment. The level of attention had the smallest mean
dierence between the two conditions, which depicts that IDN did
not inuence it.
4 CONCLUSION
This study aimed to investigate the impact of Interactive Digital
Narrative (IDN) in VR and its inuence on users’ engagement. A
controlled with-in subject study was designed to compare measures
of engagement in narrative and non-narrative virtual environments.
Results showed a signicant increase in the overall level of engage-
ment in a narrative-based VR environment giving the users an
increased sense of presence. In consequence, to obtain a high sense
of presence, the VR environment should be associated with a con-
textualized and interactive digital narrative, and IDN should be
incorporated in VR design. This study was limited to measuring
engagement as part of the VR user experience only; however, fur-
ther studies will be designed to measure the overall experience of
end-users in IDN based VR. By carrying these results forward, we
also intend to perform research on IDN’s essential design elements
than can result in an engaging and satisfactory VR experience for
end-users.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work is supported by NTNU through World of Wild Waters, a
project under the NTNU Digital Transformation initiative.
REFERENCES
[1]
Saylee Bhide, Elizabeth Goins, and Joe Geigel. 2019. Experimental Analysis of
Spatial Sound for Storytelling in Virtual Reality. In International Conference on
Interactive Digital Storytelling. Springer, 3–7.
[2]
Manuela Chessa, Guido Maiello, Alessia Borsari, and Peter J Bex. 2019. The per-
ceptual quality of the oculus rift for immersive virtual reality. Human–computer
interaction 34, 1 (2019), 51–82.
[3] David Concannon, Niall Murray, and Ronan Flynn. 2018. Quality of experience
of virtual reality in industry 4.0. (2018).
[4]
Ahmed Elmezeny, Nina Edenhofer, and Jerey Wimmer. 2018. Immersive sto-
rytelling in 360-degree videos: an analysis of interplay between narrative and
technical immersion. Journal For Virtual Worlds Research 11, 1 (2018).
[5] Hartmut Koenitz. 2019. Narrative in Video Games.

NordiCHI ’20, October 25–29, 2020, Tallinn, Estonia
[6]
Hartmut Koenitz, Gabriele Ferri, Mads Haahr, Diğdem Sezen, and Tonguç İbrahim
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[8]
Jimmie Leppink. 2019. Models for Treatment Order Eects. In Statistical Methods
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Mirko Suznjevic, Matija Mandurov, and Maja Matijasevic. 2017. Performance
and QoE assessment of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift for pick-and-place tasks in
VR. In 2017 Ninth International Conference on Quality of Multimedia Experience
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A RESULTS
Figure 2: Bar-plot demonstrating the mean with 95% con-
dence interval for engagement
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01 Jun 1995
TL;DR: This paper attempts to cast a new, variable-based definition of virtual reality that can be used to classify virtual reality in relation to other media, based on concepts of "presence" and "telepresence".
Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) is typically defined in terms of technological hardware. This paper attempts to cast a new, variable-based definition of virtual reality that can be used to classify virtual reality in relation to other media. The defintion of virtual reality is based on concepts of “presence” and “telepresence,” which refer to the sense of being in an environment, generated by natural or mediated means, respectively. Two technological dimensions that contribute to telepresence, vividness and interactivity, are discussed. A variety of media are classified according to these dimensions. Suggestions are made for the application of the new definition of virtual reality within the field of communication research.

3,724 citations


"Increasing User Engagement in Virtu..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Because of this sensory feedback, the user becomes visually immersed in a computer-generated threedimensional VR scene [14]....

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Journal ArticleDOI
Jonathan Steuer1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) is typically defined in terms of technological hardware. This paper attempts to cast a new, variable-based definition of virtual reality that can be used to classify virtual reality in relation to other media. The defintion of virtual reality is based on concepts of "presence" and "telepresence," which refer to the sense of being in an environment, generated by natural or mediated means, respectively. Two technological dimensions that contribute to telepresence, vividness and interactivity, are discussed. A variety of media are classified according to these dimensions. Suggestions are made for the application of the new definition of virtual reality within the field of communication research.

3,506 citations


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Grigore C. Burdea1, Philippe Coiffet2Institutions (2)
01 Jan 1994
TL;DR: This in-depth review of current virtual reality technology and its applications provides a detailed analysis of the engineering, scientific and functional aspects of virtual reality systems and the fundamentals of VR modeling and programming.
Abstract: From the Publisher: This in-depth review of current virtual reality technology and its applications provides a detailed analysis of the engineering, scientific and functional aspects of virtual reality systems and the fundamentals of VR modeling and programming. It also contains an exhaustive list of present and future VR applications in a number of diverse fields. Virtual Reality Technology is the first book to include a full chapter on force and tactile feedback and to discuss newer interface tools such as 3-D probes and cyberscopes. Supplemented with 23 color plates and more than 200 drawings and tables which illustrate the concepts described.

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"Increasing User Engagement in Virtu..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Studies have been done in defining the dimensions and underlining concepts of VR experiences[16], however, few researchers have worked on modelling and assessing the experience resulting from using immersive and interactive digital narratives (IDN)[6] There are not many studies present that address the influence of IDN and storytelling on VR systems and how it shapes the end user experience....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Preliminary analyses described here demonstrate that the ITC-SOPI is reliable and valid, but more rigorous testing of its psychometric properties and applicability to interactive virtual environments is required.
Abstract: The presence research community would benefit from a reliable and valid cross-media presence measure that allows results from different laboratories to be compared and a more comprehensive knowledge base to be developed. The ITC-Sense of Presence Inventory (ITC-SOPI) is a new state questionnaire measure whose development has been informed by previous research on the determinants of presence and current self-report measures. It focuses on users' experiences of media, with no reference to objective system parameters. More than 600 people completed the ITC-SOPI following an experience with one of a range of noninteractive and interactive media. Exploratory analysis (principal axis factoring) revealed four factors: Sense of Physical Space, Engagement, Ecological Validity, and Negative Effects. Relations between the factors and the consistency of the factor structure with others reported in the literature are discussed. Preliminary analyses described here demonstrate that the ITC-SOPI is reliable and valid, but more rigorous testing of its psychometric properties and applicability to interactive virtual environments is required. Subject to satisfactory confirmatory analyses, the ITC-SOPI will offer researchers using a range of media systems a tool with which to measure four facets of a media experience that are putatively related to presence.

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Book
10 Sep 2002
TL;DR: Understanding Virtual Reality arrives at a time when the technologies behind virtual reality have advanced to the point that it is possible to develop and deploy meaningful, productive virtual reality applications, equipping you with the understanding needed to identify and prepare for ways VR can be used in your field, whatever your field may be.
Abstract: Understanding Virtual Reality arrives at a time when the technologies behind virtual reality have advanced to the point that it is possible to develop and deploy meaningful, productive virtual reality applications. The aim of this thorough, accessible exploration is to help you take advantage of this moment, equipping you with the understanding needed to identify and prepare for ways VR can be used in your field, whatever your field may be. By approaching VR as a communications medium, the authors have created a resource that will remain relevant even as the underlying technologies evolve. You get a history of VR, along with a good look at systems currently in use. However, the focus remains squarely on the application of VR and the many issues that arise in the application design and implementation, including hardware requirements, system integration, interaction techniques, and usability. This book also counters both exaggerated claims for VR and the view that would reduce it to entertainment, citing dozens of real-world examples from many different fields and presenting (in a series of appendices) four in-depth application case studies. * Substantive, illuminating coverage designed for technical and business readers and well-suited to the classroom. * Examines VR's constituent technologies, drawn from visualization, representation, graphics, human-computer interaction, and other fields, and explains how they are being united in cohesive VR systems. * Via a companion Web site, provides additional case studies, tutorials, instructional materials, and a link to an open-source VR programming system. Table of Contents Foreword Preface Part I - What is Virtual Reality? Chapter 1: Introduction to Virtual Reality - What it is and Where it Comes From Chapter 2: VR the Medium Part II - Virtual Reality Systems Chapter 3: Interface to the Virtual World -- Input Chapter 4: Interface to the Virtual World -- Output Chapter 5: Rendering a Virtual World Chapter 6: Interacting with a Virtual World Chapter 7: Virtual Reality Experience Chapter 8: Experience Design: Applying VR to a Problem Chapter 9: What Dreams May Come: The Future of VR Appendices A: NICE educational application (EVL) B: Crumbs visualization application (NCSA) C: Aircraft wiring application (Boeing, Inc.) D: Placeholder artistic application (Interval Research)

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