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Guest Lecture: Understanding Social Interactions in Immersive Virtual Reality Games

Thursday, March 14th at 3:45pm in PTAB 109

Talk Abstract: Three-dimensional virtual applications mediated via head-mounted displays (i.e., virtual reality applications) are growing in popularity as a medium for the facilitation of both ludic and serious activities. An essential component of these applications is their ability to afford users successful interaction, both social and non-social. However, interaction in virtual reality applications can and does occur differently and less intuitively than it does in the real world due to many technical and design choices made by engineers and game developers. My research focuses on how interaction can occur naturally and intuitively in virtual reality by examining how users of these environments perceive the space around their bodies and the self-avatars they create. In this talk, I will describe how personal space is maintained in virtual reality under specific conditions, and how this differs from how it is maintained in the real world. This novel understanding of interaction has provided important information for collaborative scenarios in virtual reality. Second, I will describe how the characteristics of self-avatars shape the customization choices users make when designing them, as well as how this shapes the perception of them, and the implications of these choices on interaction in these spaces. I will explain how these novel findings are crucial to the development of character customization interfaces. I will conclude my talk with the future directions of my work by discussing how I will continue to deeply explore interaction via understanding spatial and avatar perception in virtual reality applications, particularly by utilizing large scale game environments and via the development of a bespoke character customization interface.

Bio: Dr. Lauren Buck is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow in the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin, working with the Graphics, Vision, and Visualization Group. She earned her Ph.D. in computer science at Vanderbilt University, and her background spans computer science, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience. Her interests lie in understanding interaction and collaboration within virtual reality though interdisciplinary methodologies. Particularly, her work has sought to understand how people perceive interaction space within virtual environments and how to apply this understanding to applications that can assist with the development of high-fidelity games as well as problems in different fields such as defense, medicine, and data privacy. Dr. Buck regularly publishes in premier conferences and journals in both the virtual reality and psychology communities, such as IEEE Virtual Reality, ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, and IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.