Dreadful Virtualities: A Comparative Case Study of Player Responses to a Horror Game in Virtual Reality and Flat Screen

  • Marta Clavero JiménezEmail author
  • Amanda M. S. James
  • Marcello A. Gómez Maureira
  • Isabelle Kniestedt
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10714)


As Virtual Reality (VR) technology has become consumer ready, questions concerning its effects are becoming more urgent, specifically in regards to content that involve strong emotions such as horror games. This study compares player responses while playing the same game in two conditions: room-scale VR and a conventional monitor. We developed a test game, based on a commercial title, and combined semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and psycho-physiological measures to analyze differences between setups. Participants’ self-reports of fright were similar in both conditions on their first playthrough. However, results across different measures indicated an elevated experience of fear in VR upon playing the game a second time. The sensation of spatial presence afforded by VR emerged as the main argument for making the experience more intense and enhancing the immediacy of virtual threats. Our results show that while VR does not necessarily provide a more intense horror experience than conventional setups, it is less impacted by pre-existing knowledge of game content, providing a longer-lasting intensity to the experience.


Virtual reality Horror games Game user research 



First and foremost we would like to thank Mikkel Svendsen, for pouring hours upon hours of his spare time into developing the game that was used for this research. He offered his technical advice, enthusiasm, and support throughout the whole process. We are most thankful to Yasmin Marie Cachia, for her generous assistance and her advice during the experimental phase of this project. Huge thanks to the lecturers and staff members at the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta, for allowing us to use their equipment and their space, and for wholeheartedly participating in our research. Many thanks to Marco Scirea and Daniel Cermak for the many conversations and guidance. Thank you as well to all test participants and playtesters, this project would have been impossible without your enthusiastic participation.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Clavero Jiménez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda M. S. James
    • 1
  • Marcello A. Gómez Maureira
    • 2
  • Isabelle Kniestedt
    • 2
  1. 1.Independent ResearcherCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.University of MaltaMsidaMalta

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