I feel you! Emotional Companions in VR




Lab Course (Forschungsprojekt)


Online Kick-Off Date: Monday, April 12th, 12:00 p.m. (with reservation).
(To participate, please send an application to Linda Graf)

This research project will investigate how to design emotional companions that emotionally support players during stressful or fearful situations.

Humans profit from the support of others. Mainly during stress or fearful situations like, for example, medical treatments, the personsí anxiety can be positively influenced by another personsí presence. Thereby, the emotional similarity theory says that it is more helpful if someone is in the same affective mood as oneself and can feel what the person is going through (Townsend et al., 2014; Ullrich et al., 2016). Nevertheless, the presence of someone can help to cope with one own anxiety. But someone else can ít always be there during an uncomfortable situation (e.g., during an MRI examination). Therefore, this is where the Companions come into play.

Game Companions are non-player characters (NPCs) that accompany the players in games. They can guide the player, give the game an emotional touch, convey a particular atmosphere, show the player how one should feel in a specific situation (Pinchbeck, 2009), or make the player feel less lonely (Liszio et al., 2017). The Companion itself and the environment in which the player interacts with it play a role. Virtual Reality provides a high immersion level that increases the usersí emotional experience (Liszio et al., 2018; Diemer et al., 2015). Also, the perceived realism and the social presence of a companion are increased in virtual environments.

Within this research project, participants should identify different mechanisms, how to create an emotional Game Companion. Subsequently, the Companion will be integrated into a game concept and finally implemented using Unity 3D and the HTC VIVE Pro Eye. Furthermore, the design and preparation of an empirical evaluation will also be part of the project. Due to the current situation, the study conduction and analysis will not be part of it.

Target Audience

MA Komedia, MAI