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Distraction as a measure of presence: using visual and tactile adjustable distraction as a measure to determine immersive presence of content in mediated environments

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To assess and improve the user experience in entertainment products, developers need results of evaluation methods, which in detail measure the relationship between the mediated content and the resulting media experience. This paper proposes a method applying adjustable distraction (AD) to determine presence as immersion (Lombard and Ditton in At the heart of it all: the concept of presence, Department of Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media, Temple University, 1997) at selectable events (approximated real-time). Two experiments were conducted to investigate its applicability in computer games and movies with respectively visual and tactile AD. The first experiment examined whether the experienced intensity in a survival-shooter game, measured through questionnaires, was proportional to results from the AD method. The intrusiveness of the AD method was also addressed in the experiment by comparing the immersive presence ratings in a between-groups design. The second experiment investigated whether heart rate measurements, intensity ratings and the results of the AD method with vibration as the distraction signal were proportional when test participants watched a movie clip. The outcome of the first experiment indicated that no significant intrusion is caused by the method. In addition, results showed no proportionality between the AD method and intensity ratings. However, as the AD measurements were supported by flow theory, it might be that the results from the AD method using visual distraction are giving a more comprehensive indication of presence as immersion (rather than just the intensity dimension). The second experiment revealed proportionality between the intensity ratings and the heart rate measurements, while the results from the tactile AD method were not proportional. We suspect that this was caused by the great variance found across the test participants’ thresholds of perceivable vibration. Because of this, it is suggested that a thorough screening process is conducted pre-test if the AD method should apply vibration as the distracting stimulus.

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Correspondence to Rolf Nordahl.

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Nordahl, R., Korsgaard, D. Distraction as a measure of presence: using visual and tactile adjustable distraction as a measure to determine immersive presence of content in mediated environments. Virtual Reality 14, 27–42 (2010).

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