Facepalms and Lulz: Blind spots in immersive virtual environment research reports in safety training contexts

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Lately I’ve been gathering a literature review in the use of immersive virtual environments (or IVEs) in safety training contexts – this might include construction, mining, military, healthcare etc. A couple of quick observations below, in a non-academic and tightly socially acceptable way – although one could go beyond that.

  1. Terms such as virtual reality, immersive virtual environments, virtual worlds, simulations, serious games, immersion, and presence (a non-exhaustive list) are used however one feels like – nope, no need to justify them. You might have a virtual environment with which you don’t even allow the user to interact, a regular monitor as the output, and you call it a ‘virtual reality’ and a ‘serious game’. A double whammy! Hmm, I really need to bend my head in so many ways to agree with this that I am actually getting an idea: a journal article!
  2. It seems people still have the misconception that virtual environments are about representation. Interaction seems to be something like the evil twin that everyone wants to hide, or pretend it does not exist. Don’t these people play video games, like really?
  3. No one is interested in the actual user experience – oh yeah, that too exists! If you ask “did you like it” and they say “yeah, it was good” I don’t think it should cut as genuine research. At least I don’t have any idea what to do with such comments. But…
  4. …everyone is interested in fidelity, life-likeness or realism (within the little world of object number 2 on this list). How using different input/output devices, level of interaction with the environment, basically the whole shebang of human-computer interaction and user experience is tossed aside in the name of understanding better graphics! I am sure old MUD players would at least now facepalm, if not already before. Immersion has been there for ages, and assigning it all to better graphics is just denying the existence of everything else.

Just a couple of thoughts.

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One thought on “Facepalms and Lulz: Blind spots in immersive virtual environment research reports in safety training contexts

  1. These are not a couple of thoughts, but sinking the nail (hope that this is a valid saying :-)). Worlds are created, destroyed to be resurrected as virtual environments using game technology. High-Fidelity is more important than the narration, hot avatars hide lame physics engines even if this is a relevant part in a simulation. Oh, not sure if simulation is the word to say, was it realistic game. But we live in a world where a phone with round corners is superior over one with less round corners, where shiny cases are hidden in rubber hulls as it is too precious to be in contact with coins, and glass backs win over the convenience of exchanging the battery. And this can be transferred to the virtual world/VE/…. Looking forward to cover this with you over the next weeks, very exciting.

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