Conference Paper

Dreadful Virtualities: A Comparative Case Study of Player Responses to a Horror Game in Virtual Reality and Flat Screen

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Abstract

As Virtual Reality (VR) technology has become consumer ready, questions concerning its effects are becoming more urgent, specifically in regards to content that involve strong emotions such as horror games. This study compares player responses while playing the same game in two conditions: room-scale VR and a conventional monitor. We developed a test game, based on a commercial title, and combined semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and psycho- physiological measures to analyze differences between setups. Participants’ self- reports of fright were similar in both conditions on their first playthrough. How- ever, results across different measures indicated an elevated experience of fear in VR upon playing the game a second time. The sensation of spatial presence afforded by VR emerged as the main argument for making the experience more intense and enhancing the immediacy of virtual threats. Our results show that while VR does not necessarily provide a more intense horror experience than conventional setups, it is less impacted by pre-existing knowledge of game con- tent, providing a longer-lasting intensity to the experience.

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