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Tag Archives: the gadget show

I came across this gem some days ago while browsing on ImTech’s front page. I must say, I’m quite impressed with the effort The Gadget Show put toward constructing such an immersive experience for their simulator’s users!

Some of you might think the show’s hosts were getting too excited about “how immersed” users seemed based on their reactions in the simulator. From a competitive gamer’s perspective, I could imagine this “hesitancy to move” being detrimental for your overall ranking, unless you were participating in survival ratings over the kill/death ratio FPS standard. However, from a researcher’s or experience designer’s perspective, the level of immersion – known as Presence (the measure of how “real” a simulation appears) – is quite important for influencing human behavior.

What does that really mean though? It means the way you act in the game/simulation may change radically depending on how present you feel in the environment. For example, a typical FPS gamer may just run into the battle ground and shoot at enemy targets while being shot at himself. There is no consequence for dying with the exception of a lower score or potentially getting kicked off your team if you don’t contribute much.

Now, contrast that low-risk style of game play with the presence felt in a fully-immersive simulator complete with physical pain mapping: you get players who will be much more meticulous with their actions as demonstrated in the video by SAS operator Andy McNab. If the user suffers a gunshot wound in the game, part of the change may be caused by the desire to avoid the paintball barrage effect penalty, but this consequence is coupled with the ability to walk, look, and aim through natural physical movement instead of button presses and joystick flicks. Together, these features provide several layers of immersion in the system, which delivers an overwhelming sense of a “second” reality. Despite knowing they are playing a game, users will undoubtedly treat the game more as if it were a real-life situation due to the immense presence they feel.

This is why presence is such a huge accomplishment to achieve in virtual environments and simulations. Without this level of immersion, people may treat the simulation as a low-risk environment and thus not engage with it like they would if they believed there was a higher connection. Think about using this kind of technology for training doctor, which is happening by the way. I can’t wait till we have even more immersive tech pervading through our society on a more commercial scale for others to appreciate!