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Embracing Cultural Heritage Through Virtual Reality: Development, Usability and Enjoyment Evaluation of a VR Environment for the Church of Panagia Aggeloktisti

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS,volume 14219)

Abstract

The importance of preservation, accessibility and dissemination of Cultural Heritage is universally acknowledged, and the latest technological advancements in visualisation technologies such as Virtual Reality, and Serious VR Games in particular, have been increasingly utilised for innovation and application to support these efforts with great success. This paper presents the development and evaluation of a VR environment focusing on disseminating information on the Byzantine art of Panagia Aggeloktisti church in Cyprus, through an immersive learning scenario requiring users to complete challenges to progress while learning important historical information about the church. The paper presents information on the VR environment development, providing details on the process of capturing, processing and digitising in 3D models the exterior and several artefacts of the church. Two versions of the environment have been developed, featuring Gamified and non-Gamified components. The study presented in this paper compares and evaluates these versions through analysing users perceptions towards usability/playability, enjoyment and visual aesthetics of the environment. A comparative experimental study was conducted and the results revealed that the users’ experience was positively perceived regardless of interacting with the gamified elements of the environment or not during their VR experience. The results suggest that the VR environment was perceived usable/playable, enjoyable and with appealing graphics, and is at a stage to be used for public access and further experimentation. The paper also highlights the need for developing and extensively evaluating the efficacy of VR environments to provide immersive, engaging and enjoyable gamified and gaming experiences to embrace cultural heritage.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the student interns Pavel Telnov and Pascal Schovanez from UCLan Cyprus for their contribution in the development and design of the VR environment, Dr Yiannis Georgiou, Maria Efpraxia and Varnavia Giorgalla from the Cyprus University of Technology for their support during data collection. We would also like to thank the students from the Cyprus University of Technology for their participation in this study. This project is partially funded by the Centre for Cultural Preservation through Creative Practice at UCLan.

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Nisiotis, L., Souropetsis, M., Kyza, E.A. (2023). Embracing Cultural Heritage Through Virtual Reality: Development, Usability and Enjoyment Evaluation of a VR Environment for the Church of Panagia Aggeloktisti. In: De Paolis, L.T., Arpaia, P., Sacco, M. (eds) Extended Reality. XR Salento 2023. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 14219. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-43404-4_15

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-43404-4_15

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