Reblog: Can gaming & VR help you with combatting traumatic experiences?

Can gaming & VR help you with combatting traumatic experiences? The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community. The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

Can gaming & VR help you with combatting traumatic experiences?

Trauma affects a great many people in a variety of ways, some suffer from deep-seated trauma such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by war or abuse. And others suffer from anxiety and phobias caused by traumatic experiences such as an accident, a loss an attack.

Each needs its own unique and tailored regime to lessen the effects and to aid the individuals in regaining some normalcy to their lives. Often these customized treatments are very expensive and difficult to obtain.

In the world of ubiquitous technology and an ever-increasing speed in visual-based treatments, these personalized therapies are becoming more accessible to the average sufferer.

What I would like to do is take you through some of the beneficial effects that gaming and VR can have on those suffering from trauma, what these treatments sometimes look like and what the pitfalls can be when using them.
I am not a specialist in psychology or trauma treatment, but I feel that increasing awareness of what is out there is beneficial to everyone, and perhaps can help those suffering from trauma to take the first step in seeking help.

Games & VR as a positive mental activity

To date, a few studies have been done on the effectiveness of gaming and virtual reality gaming in therapeutic treatments. But due to the brief history of both, a lengthy study has yet to be completed. But the one thing that we can be sure of is the first-hand accounts of those that have experienced the benefit of these experiences.

A very basic exercise for those suffering from trauma is to engage in mindfulness or meditation exercises. Meditation guided through a VR system can have very positive effects on an individual’s disposition. Due to the immersive nature of VR, you can let yourself fall away into another world and detach yourself from the real world. It is as though you are “experiencing a virtual Zen garden” dedicated entirely to you.

This effect of letting go and identifying with an external locus is probably one of the most effective attributes of gaming and VR. It is the act of not focusing on yourself, on the memories and cues that cause the underlying trauma, but focusing on and engaging with another character, an avatar, on-screen who for all intents and purposes has led and now leads (through you) another life. This character has its own sense of agency to complete a quest or goal, totally independent from you.

The most effective way that games allow you to let go to offer you a challenge that requires your entire focus. And to enhance this, most games offer group challenges. These are two core drivers in improving positive emotions, personal empowerment, and social relatedness. With individuals who suffer from either PTSD or other deep trauma’s, being given a vehicle that allows easier connections with others helps them to cope with their own trauma’s much better. It takes their mind off what is troubling them and through repetition can even lead to a lessening of symptoms.
Did you enjoy this article? Then read the full version from the author’s website.

For a more behind the scenes look at how this manifests in practice, check out this PBS Frontline documentary. Master Sgt. Robert Butler, a Marine combat cameraman, recounts his struggle with PTSD and how Virtual Iraq helped.

OC4 Talks: Designing for Feeling – Robin Hunicke

Notes from OC4 Designing for Feeling – Robin Hunicke

Philosophy of Exploration and Design

Robin opened with her concept of triple E content (a play on AAA, disambiguated below) and extolled the value of figuring out where you want to go first

  • Elegant Expressive and Emotional content (EEE)
  • She presented a 2×2 matrix with high impact, low cost as the quadrant where most content aims… the problem, she expressed, was that the matrix leaves out elegance as a focal point
    Tips
  • Evolve concepts, tools, & solutions, to reduce cost & improve impact
  • Evolve ux
  • Expressive – Players Speak

Process & the Broad Applicability of EEE

Axes in her slide graphic included rational, eee, baroque, and scripted (e.g. Sims, Black ops)

  1. Test your concept like it isn’t your
  2. Throw away ideas
  3. Find the feeling in your idea (lock in on it)
  4. This is your secret sauce
  5. Test the prototype like it isn’t yours
  6. the prototype is different than what is on paper
  7. the process is what helps
  8. Repeat

Luna

Uncertainty is surpassed only by the effort that needs to go into it

For Luna she took inspiration for the design from a paper world feel, influenced by origami, and during the process she packed her mind with fairytales

Not everyone needs to get into hands-on design influences, but she
thought that making origami and the concepts and learning how the
tactile quality turned out were really informative
 I’ve definitely found with Project Futures: The Future of
Farming it’s really key to actually gain some influence from real world knowledge and folks that have built
constructs or structures that are going to lend to the look and feeling of the world space in the app. Namely
Infarm.

One important side note Robin dropped was that none of the characters in Luna have genders.

Other Random Notes

  • Mood boards
  • Luna started out as a PC and VR title from the beginning
  • The demo and vision existed before the actual prototype (i.e. the hands
    controlling the stars)
  • Tested prototype part 2 and threw it away
  • Music is integrated into the testing process with feeling at the center, namely, “what kind of feeling is it communicating?”

Timeline
4 year process for Luna – started out as a drawing in a book

  • They went through a massive phase where no VR was implemented, then in November 2016 it came to life in VR (7 person
    team)
  • By 2017 the pieces are starting to become cohesive and informed by the feeling

Fail Forward was key, it takes a lot of work.

Have to lean into the idea of interesting different challenging titles

UPSHOT = Diverse and inclusive teams, failure is ok, and the belief that you’re
going to get there. Leads to the triple EEEs and successful titles.

Developer Blog Post: ARKit #1

When developing AR applications for Apple phones there are two cameras that we speak about. One is the physical camera on the back of the phone. The other is the virtual camera that you will have in your Unity scene to in turn, match the position and orientation of the real world camera.

A camera in Unity (virtual) has a component called Clear Flags which determines which parts of the screen will be cleared. On your main virtual camera setting this to “Depth Only” will instruct the renderer to clear the layer of the virtual background environment. Allowing for the seamless overlay of virtual objects on the (physical) camera feed as a backdrop for your virtual objects.

More to come on differences between hit testing and ray casting in the context of ARKit and a broader look at intersection testing approaches in the next post.

Reblog: Virtual Reality Installations to Start Arriving at AMC Movie Theaters Next Year

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Hey everyone! Today I read that America’s biggest movie theater chain, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., is putting $20 million behind a Hollywood virtual reality startup and plans to begin installing its technology at cinemas starting next year. That startup, namely, Dreamscape Immersive is said to be backed by Steven Spielberg and offering experiences allowing six people to participate at the same time.

As a Southern California native, I’m excited that… “‘[i]ts first location will be at a Los Angeles mall run by Westfield Corp., [who is] a series A investor. It is expected to launch there in the winter of 2018’ said Dreamscape’s CEO, Bruce Vaughn”.

Not only will experiences that build on traditional movie-going be available. For example, think of John Wick Chronicles which was an immersive FPS allowing people to play as John Wick and travel into the world of hired guns leading up to John Wick 2 earlier this year.  But, the WSJ article says that you can expect to be able to attend, for instance, sporting events virtually with Dreamscape Immersive. An interesting appeal, given that we don’t really associate a trip to the theaters with sports fan viewing experiences.

I’m curious to see how these Dreamscape Immersive locations will be outfitted. Some might find a useful comparison to be The Void – Ghostbusters Dimensions which brings the cinematic experience to life at Madame Tussauds in New York for you and three others. Their experience highlighted dynamism and complete immersion where you walk around an expansive physical space by leveraging custom hardware.

 

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Here’s a glimpse at how their setup looked in July 2016 when I went

 

The article goes on to say that, “the VR locations may be in theater lobbies or auditoriums or locations adjacent to cinemas”. Last year in September we saw Emax, for example, a Shenzhen-based startup execute the adjacent layout. The open layout was nice, in my humble opinion, while there are charms to giving folks privacy a la VR booths one might find at large conferences. Perhaps because it shows how much fun people in the virtual experience are having and gives onlooking friends the chance to share their reactions.

 

IMG_2662.JPG

Kiosk situated across from a cinema inside of a mall in Shenzhen

 

On that topic, creative VR applications like Tiltbrush and Mindshow yield some kind of shareable content innately. In the former, when you’re finished with your painting you can export the work of art as a model, scene, or perhaps just the creation video and view it later online. In the latter, you are essentially creating a show for others to watch.

But if the experience is a bit more passive, as in watching a sporting event… are there ways to share that which you experienced with others? Definitely. Via green screen infrastructure and video content. The la-based company, LIV, has been striving towards productization of the infrastructure needed to seamlessly capture guests in a better way.  Succinctly put, LIV “think[s] VR is amazing to be inside, but rather underwhelming to spectate….” Perhaps Dreamscape Immersive will leverage similar infrastructure to expand the digital footprint of these location-based experiences.

What do you think are the most salient points about this announcement?

Read the original WSJ article by clicking here

 

Reblog: The Light Field Stereoscope | SIGGRAPH 2015

Inspired by Wheatstone’s original stereoscope and augmenting it with modern factored light field synthesis, [Fu-Chung Huang, Kevin Chen, Gordon Wetzstein] present a new near-eye display technology that supports focus cues. These cues are critical for mitigating visual discomfort experienced in the commercially-available head mounted displays and providing comfortable, long-term immersive experiences.

 

ABSTRACT

Over the last few years, virtual reality has re-emerged as a technology that is now feasible at low cost via inexpensive cellphone components. In particular, advances of high-resolution micro displays, low-latency orientation trackers, and modern GPUs facilitate extremely immersive experiences. To facilitate comfortable long-term experiences and wide-spread user acceptance, however, the vergence-accommodation conflict inherent to all stereoscopic displays will have to be solved. [Fu-Chung Huang, Kevin Chen, Gordon Wetzstein] present the first factored near-eye display technology supporting high image resolution as well as focus cues: accommodation and retinal blur. To this end, [Fu-Chung Huang, Kevin Chen, Gordon Wetzstein] build on Wheatstone’s original stereoscope but augment it with modern factored light field synthesis via stacked liquid crystal panels. The proposed light field stereoscope is conceptually closely related to emerging factored light field displays, but it has very unique characteristics compared to the television-type displays explored thus far. Foremost, the required field of view is extremely small – just the size of the pupil – which allows for rank-1 factorizations to produce correct or nearly-correct focus cues. [Fu-Chung Huang, Kevin Chen, Gordon Wetzstein] analyze distortions of the lenses in the near-eye 4D light fields and correct them using the high-dimensional image formation afforded by our display. [Fu-Chung Huang, Kevin Chen, Gordon Wetzstein] demonstrate significant improvements in resolution and retinal blur quality over previously-proposed near-eye displays. Finally, [Fu-Chung Huang, Kevin Chen, Gordon Wetzstein] analyze diffraction limits of these types of displays along with fundamental resolution limits.

FILES

  • technical paper (pdf)
  • technical paper supplement (zip)
  • presentation slides (slideshare)