Spectator driven Virtual Reality design
Today virtual reality experiences in consumer products are marketed primarily as a complete immersive one-person experience. In an effort to expand the experience of virtual reality head mounted display installations I explored how designers can include and take advantage of spectators in installation design and the impact spectators driven VR design has on immersion and experience.
From a theoretical framework a prototype was constructed and tested. The framework consists of theories regarding dynamics between user and spectator, virtual reality classification complemented by strategies to engage complex dynamic context design, playful explorative attitudes and audience participation.
Through interviews, enactment and video cued recall the prototype was examined against the theoretical framework. It was shown how spectator focused design can benefit both the immersion and overall experience. Particularly the focus on meaningful spectator design enriches the experience – of both user and spectator – by creating breathing room and places for unfocused reflection. The immersive qualities of the head mounted displays is not compromised, but friendly communication between the participants seems to limit prolonged immersion. Valuable experience is achieved for the spectators through access and agency over the other participants experiences, which can negate feelings of passitivity by creating places for performance outside the primary artefact. There also seem to be great value in individual interpretation of the system, fostered by secretive and ambiguous aesthetics in the head mounted display experience.