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Exploring How Role and Background Influence Through Analysis of Spatial Dialogue in Collaborative Problem-Solving Games


This study examines how different roles and background knowledge transform players’ dyadic conversations into spatial dialogues in a virtual cellular biology game. Cellverse is a collaborative virtual reality (VR) game designed to teach cell biology. Players work in pairs, assuming the role of either a Navigator, with reference material and a global view through a tablet, or an Explorer, with a more detailed interactive view of the cell through a VR headset and hand controllers. The game is designed so players must collaborate in order to complete the game. Our results show that roles influenced their reference perspectives at a level of statistical significance. Furthermore, players with high prior knowledge tried to reduce their partner’s mental effort by giving spatial information from their point of view, thus producing fewer occurrences of spatial unawareness. Results of this study suggest that designers can build in different roles and leverage different background knowledge to prompt effective partnerships during collaborative games.

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This material is based upon work supported by Oculus Education.

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Correspondence to Cigdem Uz-Bilgin.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee. Research on human subjects has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Uz-Bilgin, C., Thompson, M. & Anteneh, M. Exploring How Role and Background Influence Through Analysis of Spatial Dialogue in Collaborative Problem-Solving Games. J Sci Educ Technol 29, 813–826 (2020).

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  • Spatial dialogue
  • Collaborative games
  • Virtual reality
  • Prior knowledge
  • Science education