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Loom: Collaborative Puzzle VR Game
HMRS PhD Student Trent Simmons
Social interactions come naturally to many people, but others find social interaction to be awkward due to a lack of fluid social experiences in early life, or isolation due to sickness or other circumstances later in life. Social interactions are central to our everyday lives and are increasingly recognized to be a key factor in health and well-being. Despite the importance of social interaction, we lack objective and quantitative ways of characterizing social interactions. One reason social interactions have defied easy quantification is that the various features intrinsic to social interaction, such as gesture, facial expressions, gaze behavior and speech, are challenging capture and analyze alone, much less with two or more people.
We have developed a puzzle-style game implemented in virtual reality that can be played alone or with another player. In this early implementation, we capture hand, head, and eye movements during game play. In our tasks, the presence of another player changes the movement timing of the first player even when there is no interaction between players. Movement slows down in the presence of another player and this result is stronger for autistic players. We see the use of this type of virtual reality social game as beneficial for characterizing and quantifying social behavior. In the future, we expect that similar platforms will be useful for providing therapeutic social interactions and therapies.