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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/14408

Title: An Experimental Perspective on Factors Influencing Collaborative User Experience in Virtual Environments and Games
Authors: Beznosyk, Anastasiia
Advisors: Coninx, Karin
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: Collaboration between people is an essential component of daily life. With the growing use of computer technology in the last decades, it has become possible to interact with other people not only in real life but also virtually through collaborative virtual environments. Collaborative virtual environments are computer-based virtual spaces that enable users, although geographically dispersed, to be present in the same environment and to collaborate with each other. When creating a collaborative virtual environment one of the main challenges is to provide users with the ability to interact with each other in a natural and realistic manner. A lot of research has been done in this area; however, this primarily focused on the realism of modern applications that is mainly achieved by the provision of advanced three-dimensional visualization and audio. Although common in real life, collaboration in which people are directly depending on each other, remains quite limited in virtual environments. In our research, we explore ways to enhance the collaborative user experience in virtual environments with the main goal of achieving a more realistic and satisfying interaction between users. The first part of this dissertation studies collaboration in virtual environments in general. Through a number of formal experiments, we determine which factors contribute to a satisfactory user experience when performing highly interactive tasks in virtual environments. Firstly, we explore the applicability of different levels of collaboration, that occur in real life, in a multi-user virtual environment. In particular, we analyze and compare the influence of loosely-coupled and closely-coupled collaboration when working together in a virtual environment, and how these two levels of collaboration affect user experience. Afterwards, we address several challenges that have to be taken into account when creating collaborative user environments. In particular, we investigate to what extent the combination of different technologies used by the collaborators to interact with the environment influences the collaborative user experience. Besides the technological differences, users themselves may have varying abilities and preferences when working together. Therefore, as a next step we study how to accommodate the user diversity in order to enhance group performance. The second part of this dissertation is dedicated to study what contributes to the collaborative user experience in a specific domain – multiplayer games. Based on the positive reaction towards closely-coupled interaction in 3D virtual environments observed in the first part of our research, we now investigate to what extent it is beneficial in the context of multiplayer games. Afterwards, we discuss the issues arising when integrating closely-coupled collaboration in games, namely the impact of different network impairments on collaboration and the communication between players. Our research on collaboration in games is concluded by looking into the solutions to achieve an improved collaborative user experience in a co-located gameplay, i.c. games for a tabletop surface. Throughout the second part of the dissertation, by performing several user experiments with existing and custom developed games we highlight the main factors that facilitate a better collaborative experience among players. By studying collaboration between users in virtual environments and multiplayer games, we have shown several important implications with regards to providing natural collaboration. We believe that applying these findings will lead to designing better collaborative virtual environments and as a result to more satisfied users.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/14408
Category: T1
Type: Theses and Dissertations
Appears in Collections: PhD theses
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