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SCHOOL OF DESIGN, ENGINEERING

& COMPUTING






Games Technology

September 2013






The Oculus Rift and Immersion through Fear





By




Adam Halley-Prinable











The Oculus Rift and
Immersion through Fear
BY ADAM HALLEY-PRI NABLE
For Palmer Luckey, the late Andrew Scott Reisse, and the entire Oculus Rift Development Team
Abstract
This paper is a record of an experiment carried out by the author. The purpose of the experiment was to
determine whether or not the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is objectively more immersive than a regular
computer monitor. This was achieved through the creation of an original horror game created by the author,
and measuring the immersiveness through fear that the Oculus Rift caused and comparing it to the
immersiveness that the screen caused. The paper is divided into several parts which match the phases of the
development and execution of the experiment the research, the game development, the test
administration, and the data analysis. The game was developed, the testing was carried out, and the paper
was written using techniques and skills gained from the authors previous university education and first-hand
experience with the horror genre and entertainment medium. The test provides evidence towards the Oculus
Rift being the superior display device for immersing players.
DISSERTATION DECLARATION

This Dissertation/Project Report is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements
for a Masters degree at Bournemouth University. I declare that this Dissertation/
Project Report is my own work and that it does not contravene any academic offence
as specified in the Universitys regulations.

Retention
I agree that, should the University wish to retain it for reference purposes, a copy of
my Dissertation/Project Report may be held by Bournemouth University normally for
a period of 3 academic years. I understand that my Dissertation/Project Report may
be destroyed once the retention period has expired. I am also aware that the
University does not guarantee to retain this Dissertation/Project Report for any length
of time (if at all) and that I have been advised to retain a copy for my future
reference.

Confidentiality
I confirm that this Dissertation/Project Report does not contain information of a
commercial or confidential nature or include personal information other than that
which would normally be in the public domain unless the relevant permissions
have been obtained. In particular any information which identifies a particular
individuals religious or political beliefs, information relating to their health, ethnicity,
criminal history or personal life has been anonymised unless permission for its
publication has been granted from the person to whom it relates.

Copyright
The copyright for this dissertation remains with me.

Requests for Information
I agree that this Dissertation/Project Report may be made available as the result of
a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Signed:

Name:

Date:

Programme:
Contents
1. Introduction .................................................................................................................................................................... 2
1.1. Research Question ............................................................................................................................................. 2
1.2. Objectives ........................................................................................................................................................... 2
1.3. Motivation ........................................................................................................................................................... 2
1.4. Background ......................................................................................................................................................... 2
2. Literature Review ......................................................................................................................................................... 3
2.1. Immersion ............................................................................................................................................................. 3
2.1.1. The Purpose of Immersion in Games .................................................................................................... 3
2.1.2. Methods of Achieving an Immersed State .......................................................................................... 3
2.1.3. Current State of Immersion in Games .................................................................................................. 4
2.2. Fear ...................................................................................................................................................................... 4
2.2.1. The Combination of Fear and Games ................................................................................................. 4
2.2.2. Creating Fear in Games ......................................................................................................................... 5
2.2.3. The Purpose of Fear in Games.............................................................................................................. 6
2.3. Measuring Immersion and Fear ...................................................................................................................... 6
2.4. Virtual Reality..................................................................................................................................................... 7
2.4.1. What sets the Oculus Rift apart from other virtual reality technologies? .................................... 7
2.4.2. How else is Virtual Reality Used? ......................................................................................................... 8
2.4.3. What Other Technology can be utilized toward the Same End? .................................................. 8
3. Game Development .................................................................................................................................................... 9
3.1. Pre-Development ............................................................................................................................................... 9
3.2. Development Process ...................................................................................................................................... 10
3.2.1. Design Level ............................................................................................................................................ 10
3.2.2. Create Level ............................................................................................................................................ 12
3.2.3. Create Player ......................................................................................................................................... 14
3.2.4. Create Enemies ....................................................................................................................................... 15
3.2.5. Implement Oculus Rift ............................................................................................................................ 16
3.2.6. Include Audio .......................................................................................................................................... 17
3.2.7. Title screens ............................................................................................................................................. 17
3.2.8. Post-Test Alterations .............................................................................................................................. 17
3.3. Difficulties .......................................................................................................................................................... 18
4. Experiment .................................................................................................................................................................. 20
4.1. Design ................................................................................................................................................................ 20
4.2. Resources ........................................................................................................................................................... 20
4.2.1. Survey....................................................................................................................................................... 20
4.2.2. The Oculus Rift ........................................................................................................................................ 20
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4.2.3. Heart Rate Monitor ................................................................................................................................ 20
4.2.4. Headphones ............................................................................................................................................ 20
4.2.5. Test Subjects ............................................................................................................................................ 21
4.2.6. Testing Rooms.......................................................................................................................................... 21
4.3. Ethical Considerations ..................................................................................................................................... 22
4.4. Expected Results .............................................................................................................................................. 22
4.5. Results ................................................................................................................................................................. 22
4.5.1. Primary Focus .......................................................................................................................................... 23
4.5.2. Additional Findings ................................................................................................................................ 28
4.6. Reflection ........................................................................................................................................................... 31
4.7. Future Work ...................................................................................................................................................... 31
5. Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................................... 32
6. Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................................................... 33
7. Reference .................................................................................................................................................................... 34
8. Appendix 1 Release Form.................................................................................................................................... 36


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1. Introduction
1.1. Research Question
Is the Oculus Rift more immersive than a computer monitor? There have been many different technologies for
displaying image data and interacting with virtual worlds, and one of the latest of these is the Oculus Rift.
The Oculus Rift is the current pinnacle of virtual reality headsets to date. It was created with the intention of
being a high-definition head-tracking full-3D virtual reality headset available for the mass market at an
affordable price. Currently, the price of an Oculus Rift is $300 United States dollars, cheaper than most
game consoles available. This device has the potential to take the gaming world by storm and revolutionise
the way that games are experienced forever. This paper aims to assess the Oculus Rift in one specific area
does it immerse users to a greater extent than the most common display used currently, the computer
monitor.
1.2. Objectives
Create a short, easy-to-play, scary game with immersive capability
o Develop game
o Integrate Oculus Rift
o Assess and ensure accessibility
Design and implement experiment to gather test data from volunteers
o Research heart rate monitors and their use
o Create questionnaire
o Acquire volunteers
o Book and set up experiment area
o Test volunteers
Analyse test data and draw conclusions
o Organize questionnaire and heart rate information
o Detect patterns and trends
o Answer the research question
o Note other conclusions
1.3. Motivation
The Oculus Rift is purportedly going to be the most significant upgrade to the gaming experience since the
conversion from 2D to 3D graphics. While hundreds of users testimonies confirm that the device is a ground-
breaking and immersive creation, no scientifically reliable test has been carried out on it yet. This thesis aims
to formally prove, or at least suggest, that the Oculus Rift has the immersive capability that its reputation
would propose. This device could easily be the future of video games as we know it, and Id like to help
contribute to its success, and determine if it is as incredible as it has been purported to be.
1.4. Background
The basis of this project consists of a combination of some of the authors undergraduate and postgraduate
university courses. The game development principles and programming techniques learned at Qantm
College were pivotal to the creation of the game, while the research methods unit from Bournemouth
University prepared the author for the writing of this paper. The project management portion of the
undergraduate degree was instrumental in handling the testing phase and overall scheduling of the paper.
The author has extensive previous experience with video games and the horror genre, and found the Oculus
Rift to be intriguing and possessing enormous potential for the future.
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2. Literature Review
Abstract This section is an assembly of facts about fear, immersion, and virtual reality. Fear and
immersion are dependent on one another. Virtual reality has potential to cause great deals of immersion,
but it has not been done successfully yet, due to software limitations. Immersion is a highly desirable effect
of a game for a wide variety of reasons, and fear is an excellent emotion to bring it out.
Keywords-Fear, Immersion, Virtual Reality, Oculus Rift, Emotion, Games, Narrative.
2.1. Immersion
The phenomenon of immersion is the ability for a person to mentally transcend their physical situation and
envelop themselves in a virtual reality, and it has been studied extensively. Immersion is the state of
consciousness where an immersants awareness of physical self is diminished or lost by being surrounded in an
engrossing total environment; often artificial.(Miller and Vandome 2009)
People can be immersed by art, storytelling, music, films, games, and daydreaming, and these methods
have each been explored.(Ryan 2003)
There are several types of immersion; Tactical immersion, where someone performing a physical action feels
in the zone and is able to perform the task without consciously thinking about it, strategic immersion, where
a person can intuitively know the correct course of action in a situation without consideration, narrative
immersion, where a player becomes invested in a story, and spatial immersion, where the player is
engrossed in a simulated environment that feels real.(BjoRk and Holopainen 2004)
2.1.1. The Purpose of Immersion in Games
Immersion involves a participant into the game to such a degree that it will not only have a greater impact
on their emotions, but that the player feels less like an outsider controlling a character and more like the
character him/herself. In an immersive game, the player actually projects himself into the experience. The most
extreme example of this is a near-miss projectile in a first-person shooter, which may actually cause someone to
shift to the side in their seat while they play.(Rouse Iii 2009) Considering the different ways a game can
enthral its player, immersion is a highly desirable outcome of any game. If tactical immersion is achieved,
the Centipede Syndrome is overcome and physical efficiency and proficiency jump. If strategic immersion is
achieved, the players problem-solving abilities increase. If narrative immersion occurs, the players
understanding and empathy for the characters increase. And if spatial immersion is accomplished, the
player forgets they are a player, transcends themselves and becomes their character. He wanted
entertainment experiences that also contributed to or enriched his life in some way, experiences that weren't just
fun diversions.
Games that connect to their players on an emotional level gain a wide range of benefits, like better press,
a happier production team, consumer loyalty, higher profits, and competitive edge. (Freeman 2004)
2.1.2. Methods of Achieving an Immersed State
Realism. Not realism of graphics or similarity to reality, but an overall convincingness and
believability of the virtual world. Glitches and bad programming can break this immersive realism.
As game reviewer Ben Yahtzee Croshaw put it in his critique of Oblivion Whenever I thought I was
starting to lose myself in the experience some NPC would get stuck on a paving stone or [their
conversation was awkwardly delivered] and Id come crashing back to reality.
Simple controls. The control scheme should be simple or obvious enough that tactical immersion isnt
prevented or lessened. Stopping to think about what button needs to be pressed will break
immersion entirely. The gamer needed to invest time, effort and attention in learning how to play
the game and getting to grips with the controlsGame features needed to combine in such a way that
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the gamers emotions were directly affected by the game and the controls became invisible.(Cox et
al.)
Story and narrative. The story of a game, if well-executed, can have the same immersive effect as
any other storytelling medium, including spoken word. Kevin Brooks describes the way that even a
storyteller simply reading aloud for 70 minutes can enthral an audience: I remember being aware
of the first three minutes of the story. But my next awareness was not until the last couple minutes of
the story. For seventy minutes my mind moved at the same rhythm as Jays telling. And indeed, all 300
people, including the once noisy and energetic young children, were all quiet and still for those same
seventy minutes.(Brooks 2003)
Challenge. In order to achieve strategic immersion, some form of strategy must be involved. It
neednt be necessarily against an opponent, but some kinds of options between courses of action
are necessary. If the challenge is beaten by chance or merely following orders without any choice,
the immersion is reduced greatly.(Adams 2004)
Richard Rouse III also comments that viewing the world through a first-person perspective creates a superior
setting for immersion than third person or RTS perspective. (Rouse Iii 2009)
2.1.3. Current State of Immersion in Games
Despite the relatively large knowledge base regarding immersion, many major game companies
consistently include immersion-shattering elements in their games. This either means that immersion is not a
primary goal of these developers, or that it is simply difficult to maintain. One example of these elements is
the cut-scene. The cut-scene is a widely used storytelling device, despite the fact that it pulls the player out
of the experience and out of control of the character.(Rouse Iii 2009)
On the other hand, Dan Pinchbeck writes that the games industry is in fact improving, and heading towards
more immersion in games than before. This argument can be supported by the clear shift across the genre to
move epistemological and orientating devices within the presented diegesis, rather than relying upon
heterodiegetic, system level, information (such as save screens, quad damage, pop-up instructions). This,
alongside the atrophy of the use of cut-scenes, is highly suggestive of a drive within the genre towards an
unbroken, highly immersive experience..(Pinchbeck 2009)

A strong tie exists between immersion and emotion, in that they both require each other. For a game to
remain engaging, the player should be emotionally engaged with the story or characters or their own
progress. On the other hand, for a game to be emotionally stimulating, it needs to be immersive enough to
connect with a player. There is an emotion that games excel at creating - An emotion that immerses people
into the subject matter to a great degree an emotion that is so central to effective gameplay and pacing
that the industry would not exist without it this emotion is fear.
Of all the emotional states that immersive interactive experiences can put one through, fear is the most
synonymous with the medium. Suspense-driven horror films have long focused on life and death struggles
against a world gone mad, with protagonists facing powerful adversaries who are purely evilThis exactly
maps to the experience most action-oriented designers want to create, going all the way back to Space
Invaders; the player is thrown into a dangerous situation with a clear, undeniable kill to survive motivation. The
evil forces are numerous and all deserve to die.(Rouse Iii 2009)
2.2. Fear
2.2.1. The Combination of Fear and Games
Richard Rouse III argues in his essay Match Made In Hell: The Inevitable Success of the Horror Genre in
Video Games that fear and video games share many similarities that combine to create an excellent
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immersive experience.(Rouse Iii 2009) Commenting on the effectiveness of the media of games in creating
fear, he says Games provoke these [fear and tension] better than other media because theres actually
something at stake for the player.
Another argument for the use of fear is that fear and games are so intertwined, that common horror
elements are already ingrained into many games, especially the First Person Shooter genre. (Pinchbeck
2009)
2.2.2. Creating Fear in Games
Games have many options at their disposal to illicit fear in their players. For example, the uncanny valley is
a phenomenon experienced by conscious beings when observing something that resembles other conscious
beings. The more similar in appearance and action the subject of observation is to observer, the more
unnerving the subject appears.(Sofge 2010)

Figure 1: The Uncanny Valley

This natural phenomenon can be utilized intentionally to create the uncomfortable feeling desired in a
horror game. Indeed, the more realistic their behaviour and appearance become, the more the perilous
uncanny valley takes over the experience. This sort of slightly off world is ideally suited to the uneasiness of
a horror setting.(Rouse Iii 2009)
For fear to be created effectively, the player must be immersed in the experience. In order to be scared
the user must be immersed, and in order to be immersed the user must face a challenge that is
overwhelming but not insurmountable. If the game is challenging to the point of unfairness, the feelings start
to shift from fearful to frustrated, and their immersion breaks. (Rouse Iii 2009)
A core concept of fear, one that reflects a core concept of gameplay, is the processing and utilization of
vague information. For example, the motion tracker in Halo: Combat Evolved used a system that both gave
the player a fair chance of success, while being ambiguous enough to provide tension and suspense. This
device (motion tracker) only shows enemies that are currently moving, and has the disadvantage of not
communicating where they are vertically. With a sufficiently complex over and under environment (as was
found in Marathon ) this forces the player to both carefully monitor the detector but also to make choices based
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on erratic information, creating a much more tense experience in the process.(Rouse Iii 2009) By not revealing
enemies who are stationary, the player can never be sure if there is an enemy waiting around the next
corner, while not being left completely in the dark.
Of course, a simple way to illicit a fearful response is with a startling and sudden appearance, which
induces a Fear-Potentiated Startle. These Jump scares are different to fear. Fear is an emotion built up
over time; a jump scare is a kneejerk reflexive action.
2.2.3. The Purpose of Fear in Games
Fear can be more than an emotion; it can be a gameplay device. Fear can be used to, within the realms of
subtext, communicate to the player what will hurt them and what will not. The very feeling of fear can
convey to a player several unspoken truths about their situation, such as You are in danger and need to
fight whatever comes your way to survive and Dying is bad. Not only does fear do that, but fear helps
cover up some of the more common holes found in gamed, especially relating to AI. Artificial intelligence
has come a long way, but it is still far from consistent accurate human behaviour. Luckily, monsters, zombies,
ghosts, and other horror antagonists are not supposed to behave in a perfectly human manner.
Relating to the previously mentioned Uncanny Valley phenomenon, these creatures have an excuse for not
acting quite properly human they arent quite properly human. This effectively masks shortcomings of
enemy agents in a way that heightens the experience. (Pinchbeck 2009) Another common hole that fear can
patch is insubstantial story. H.P. Lovecraft, the father of western horror, would frequently create stories in
which The protagonists end up with little more than a glimpse of the motives and plans of the [enemy]. This
means that, if well executed, the game designer need only have a vague story concept in mind and hint to it
throughout gameplay, allowing the player to mentally assemble the horrific possibilities themselves.
This technique of subtle suggestive storytelling can also be the intended method of storytelling in horror
games, rather than a mere cut-corner. As Richard Rouse said in his essay In horror, the way the audience fills
in the blanks will be far more disturbing than anything a writer could possibly come up with.. If executed
correctly, this form of Do-It-Yourself traumatisation can be an extremely effective immersant, as the
player is drawn into the world, looking for clues that might help them piece together exactly what is going
on. An excellent example of this is the maintenance tunnel drawings and campsites in the games Portal and
Portal 2. They serve no purpose mechanically, but add a layer of intrigue to keep the player thinking about
what on earth happened to this person, and could it happen to them too?
2.3. Measuring Immersion and Fear
Accurately and objectively measuring the subjective feelings of a human being can be a difficult task. One
way is to insert a needle into the bloodstream near the players heart and monitor the level of adrenal
excretions as a measure of excitement or fear.(Cannon 1915) A more sophisticated method of measuring
mental stress is with an EEG, which measures brainwaves.(Subhani et al. 2012) Unfortunately, while the EEG
can measure stress, it only has a 60% accuracy rate in identifying emotions.(Bos 2009)
Another measurement of fear/emotional excitement is a simple heart rate test. This kind of test is more
accurate than an EEG, with an 83% success rate.(Choi and Gutierrez-Osuna 2009) Table 1 shows that as
immersion increases, so does the level of positive and negative emotions felt by the player.(Cox et al.)
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Table 1: Correlation between immersion and emotion

This means that in a controlled environment, a measurement of fear is a measurement of immersion.
Another way to measure immersion subjectively is through questionnaires. (Cox et al.)
2.4. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is The illusion of participation in a synthetic environment rather than external observation of
such an environment. VR relies on three-dimensional, stereoscopic, head-tracked displays, hand/body
tracking and binaural sound. VR is an immersive, multi-sensory experience.(Earnshaw et al. 1993) A more
figurative way to explain it is: Viewing 3D graphics on a screen is like looking into the ocean from a glass-
bottom boat. We see through a flat window into an animated environment; we experience being on a
boat...Using a stereoscopic Head-Mounted-Display is like...diving into the ocean. Immersing ourselves in the
environment...we invoke our fullest comprehension of the scope of the undersea world. We're there.(Ryan
2003)
Virtual reality is by no means an original concept various similar concepts have been commercially
available since the early 1970s,(Shields 2002) including the Virtual Boy a two-colour tripod-mounted
dual-screen display by Nintendo, the CAVE environment a cubic room with the world projected onto each
wall, and the Fakespace BOOM display a headset connected to a boom arm, primarily used for vehicle
simulations and military command.(Vince 1998)
2.4.1. What sets the Oculus Rift apart from other virtual reality
technologies?
The Oculus Rift is the newest virtual reality headset to date, and is free of many of the restrictions that
applied to previous products. The Virtual Boy was reported to cause dizziness, nausea, and headaches, and
lacked any kind of head-tracking. CAVE environments are costly and large, making them unfeasible for
widespread use. One of the biggest problems with virtual reality in the past has been software limitations.
The hardware has remained fairly similar in design since he virtual boy, but universally, software
capabilities have been advancing rapidly. Until now, computers have lacked the necessary processing
power to implement a lag-free virtual reality headset. Expecting a VR system to simulate an exploding glass
is asking too much of todays (1998) technology(Vince 1998).
Now that the software and hardware limitations are gone, Oculus Rift is the first commercially affordable,
functional and available virtual reality headset to be released. Other models have been released
previously released, to little success, due mainly to those software limitations(Staff 2013)
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2.4.2. How else is Virtual Reality Used?
Military applications, like training soldiers how to use a parachute in a safe virtual environment on the
ground, war games, and flight simulators.(Vince 1998)
3D modelling and architecture(Vince 1998)
Workplace Training(Miller and Vandome 2009)
2.4.3. What Other Technology can be utilized toward the Same
End?
Bodysuits Bodysuits are a method of tracking the users body movement and shape, as a method of
data input and control. Bodysuits can be full-sized, similar to motion capture suits, or only cover one
part of the body, like the wired glove. These have not been hugely successful financially or technically
over their history of production.(Vince 1998)
Omnidirectional treadmills in an effort to make control input more human, the omnidirectional
treadmill is a device that allows a player to physically walk in a direction, causing their character in
the game to walk the same way. This type of haptic device aims to increase tactical immersion by
making the player perform actions more similar to their normal style of motion. (Carmein 1996)
Whether or not the large physical objects actually increase immersion is yet to be proven.

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3. Game Development
This section describes the process of developing the game, the choices made and the rationale for each
element installed. It also discusses the problems encountered during development and post-development,
and solutions applied.
3.1. Pre-Development
Initially, several ideas existed regarding the theme of the game. This was an important choice to make,
because if the basic concept of the game was inherently tame or lacked potential for horror, the entire
project would fall apart. After some deliberation, it was decided that a 3D maze environment would be the
rough description of the gameplay. The game draws inspiration mainly from three previous titles; PAC-
MAN, the extremely popular arcade hit from the 1980s, Slenderman, a recent popular and free scary
game, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, widely regarded as one of the scariest games ever made. The level
design was based on Pac-Mans enclosed, right-angled, dark maze, as was the concept of occupying the
space with multiple ghosts. The enemy design was based off Slenderman, in that he is omnipotent and
always knows where you are, and cannot be damaged, only escaped. Most other elements including
controls, player abilities, and sound design were based off Amnesia.
One of the first decisions made was the selection of development tools. Many factors needed to be
considered, including:
Ease of use
Speed of production
Compatibility with Oculus Rift
Legal fees and issues
The developers experience
The two most preferable options for the developer were the Irrlicht Engine, and the Unity Engine, as he had
used them both extensively before. Irrlicht is written in C++, the developers preferred language, while
Unity uses C#, the developers second-preferred language. In order to decide which to choose, this
comparative table was created to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each option:

Free
Widely compatible
Pre-existing experience
Text-Based development environment
No Oculus Rift support
Costly, with free version
Widely compatible
Pre-existing experience
Graphical development environment
Native Oculus Rift support

Comparing the two in this table, the Unity Engine was chosen as the preferable choice, with the main
motivation being the native Oculus Rift Support. While the developer was confident that an Oculus-
Compatible character could have been created in time using the Irrlicht engine, there was no sense in
creating extra unnecessary work.
Before any effective game content could be generated, substantial research into what makes for a scary
game was required. That research had been completed in the literature review previous to the start of the
project, and was sufficient for this task.
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Another key element to the pre-development process was scheduling. In order to ensure that the study
would be completed in a timely manner, a schedule was created to plan the development period.

ACTIVITY START END
Design Game 2/07/2013 14/07/2013
Create game 2/07/2013 20/07/2013
Integrate Oculus Rift 20/07/2013 27/07/2013
Create Questionnaire 27/07/2013 31/07/2013
Integrate Questionnaire 31/07/2013 2/08/2013
Arrange Experiment 1/08/2013 3/08/2013
Find Test Subjects 3/08/2013 15/08/2013
Run Tests 3/08/2013 31/08/2013
Analyse Data and Write Conclusions 1/09/2013 5/09/2013
Do Report 5/09/2013 25/09/2013
Proofread, bind, and submit 25/09/2013 26/09/2013
Project End 27/09/2013
Table 2: Project Schedule
In general terms, the schedule designates the three months of time given to the three major parts of the task:
creating the game, testing the subjects, and writing the report. The progress of the project reflected the
schedule closely, except that the data analysis and conclusions were performed after the bulk of the report.
3.2. Development Process
Creating a game is a time-consuming process, typically involving many gradual improvements and additions
over time. What follows is a summarised record of what was accomplished, why it was included, and to
what standard of quality it was created over the course of the development lifespan. It also covers the
difficulties encountered along the way and the changes made to the program after the testing had begun.
The majority of the design, creation, and polish of the game happened within the allotted month of July.
3.2.1. Design Level
It should be kept in mind that the goal of this game is to immerse and terrorise. Every element in this game
has been crafted so as to heighten immersion and to create fear, without frustrating the player, as this is
vital to the successful creation of horror in games. (Rouse Iii 2009) This balance between horror and fairness
is the core motivation and goal of each and every element in this game.
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Picture 1: The final version of the level.
The level design started with drawing a maze on paper, with confusion and misdirection in mind. Several
dead-ends and red herrings lie in the path to ensure that the player gets lost often, and ensures that they
backtrack over darkened areas, to increase the chances of an enemy encounter. This is necessary because
the player needs to know that an exit exists, but still feels trapped and lost. The majority of game
mechanics were implemented to sustain the balance of player fairness and the feeling of helplessness. The
player starts in the bottom-left hand corner of the maze (see picture above), and must navigate to the
empty space in the centre of the maze. Inside the centre room is a statue wearing an Oculus Rift.
When the player touches the statue, screen section ends and the Oculus Rift section begins. When the game
converts to Oculus Rift mode, the wall that forms the corner entrance to the centre room moves up one
space, blocking off the previous section and providing access to the next section. The player, now wearing
the Oculus Rift, continues on to the end of the maze, seen in the top-right corner of the image above.
The three black spots visible in the above picture are pre-placed monsters. These were placed to ensure
that every player experiences being chased in both sections at least once. If a player was able to complete
one of the sections without a monster encounter, it could make that section seem less scary and affect the
rest results. The monster in the upper left hand corner was placed there to ensure that people who use the
left hand rule (The theory that any maze can be beaten by continually turning left whenever you can) also
have an encounter.
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Picture 2: The mid-point statue
3.2.2. Create Level
One of the weaker points of the developers expertise is modelling and graphics. This was the driving
reason behind the method used to create the level. Instead of modelling a level, a single section of floor
was created, a single section of roof, and a wall. The developer then wrote a script to create the level
automatically. The script places a large area of floor and roof tiles, and then creates the horizontal walls,
and finally the vertical walls. This method has many advantages and few disadvantages. Its advantageous
because it means alterations can be made to the level without needing to edit any models, special
conditions can be individually applied to each section as seen fit, and it greatly reduces the file size of the
game, as no map file is needed. A bad thing about this approach is that the developer cannot actually see
the map in the editor, and has to work on paper or in his mind to visualize the level. Another is a latency
problem that is discussed later in this paper.
The textures of the walls, roofs, and floors were default textures that came with the Unity engine and the
Oculus Rift demonstration scene Tuscany. Graphical style was not a priority in the development of this
game, as it is neither the focus of the experiment, vital to the outcome, or a strength of the developer.
Each section of maze has a spotlight hanging from the roof, which deactivates when the player or a monster
walks under it. This mechanic serves several purposes. Firstly, it tells the player where theyve been before,
so that they have some idea of where to go and to provide some sense of progress. Secondly, the loud
banging sound of the lights switching off increases tension. Thirdly, it allows for the scary effect of something
glimpsed in the darkness coming towards the player, and as it approaches, the darkness itself approaches
too. The level of ambient light in the game has been reduced to zero, so that the only way the character
can see is by being close to it, or it being illuminated by one of the players illumination tools. Pervading
darkness is a well-known staple of the horror genre.
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Picture 3: The maze. The player came from the right, and has not yet been to the left
The maze is sporadically populated with scratch-marks on the wall, reminiscent of the scribbled pages from
Slender. The scratches at the start are world-compatible ways to communicate to the player some basic
things about the rules of the world they are in; they are helpless and cannot fight back, there is an escape,
they are safe in the light. Other scratches serve no purpose other than to add milestones for the player to
recognise, and to deepen the world.

Picture 4: Scratch marks
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3.2.3. Create Player
Next, the player needs to be given a reasonable chance of success. To avoid the lost player hopelessly
wondering around a pitch-dark maze, they are provided with a small arsenal of tools to help him navigate.
These include:
Flares instantly and brightly illuminate a large area, and can be used as a milestone for a lost
player. The player can only create one flare at a time, with a slow interval between deployments.
This means the player must think carefully about when to use the item. These were implemented
because players are expected to be throwing the Glowballs often and without much forethought,
and a secondary light source for emergencies helps the player feel like they have been given a
chance, albeit a small one.
Lantern a weak electric lantern that the player carries at all times. This lantern softly illuminates
a small radius surrounding the player, allowing them to see details of walls and things at close
range, and see where gaps in walls exist. This is a necessary addition because without it the game
becomes totally pitch-dark, which while scary, will be seen as unfair and boring. This solution
provides the player with at least the ability to know if they are walking into a wall or not.
Glowball a spherical glow stick, which can be thrown and retrieved. Used to light the area
ahead and to check for anything that may be hiding in the darkness. The player carries three of
these, and if they are not retrieved after a long time, they return to the player automatically. The
rationale of using these rather than a more common light source like a torch is to restrict the
players view, to allow them to only see in so many directions at once in order to maintain the
hemmed-in closeness of the situation.
Scratch The ability to scratch an X into the floor, to serve as a marker to help the player re-
orient themselves in the event of total disorientation. While disorientation is important, being
hopelessly lost causes frustration, and so this was a necessary addition. Unfortunately, playtests
revealed that not a single user utilised this ability.
The inventory was represented with a minimalistic GUI. Three green circles and one orange circle on
the players HUD. The orange circle represented the flare, and the green circles represented the
Glowballs. As the scratches and lantern are unlimited, no GUI element was necessary to represent
them. A filled circle represents an item present in the players inventory, while a hollow circle
represents an expended item.
When the player makes it to the end of the maze, an Oculus-compatible message appears on
the screen congratulating them and instructing them to remove the Oculus Rift and press space
to continue to the questionnaire.
It should be noted that none of the players inventory offer any defensive or offensive capability. This is
because the player needs to feel helpless against the adversity, while still somehow being able to
overcome. The only way to win is to avoid the enemies and make it to the end. That way the enemies retain
their omnipotence, without overwhelming the player.
When the player dies, they are sent back to the start of the section. This was both a good and bad
arrangement. It was good because it was a nuisance enough to motivate the player to put in effort to avoid
death, but not so harsh as to discourage. On the other hand however, it was bad because once the player
was returned to the start, any sense of progress they had achieved was dashed, not to mention the way
they previously went is now populated by an unknown number of ghosts. If this game were designed for
commercial release rather than as a test, this problem would have been much higher on the list of priorities
to solve. However, considering the feelings of the player are more important than their successful completion
of the game, the problem was deemed out of scope to be solved in time for release.

Picture 5: The GUI
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3.2.4. Create Enemies

Picture 6: The monster, in higher contrast for this paper
The monsters in this game were designed with the intention of making the player run away and get lost
deeper into the maze, but not necessarily to actually be seen. As previously quoted in the literature review
of this paper Richard Rouse III said In horror, the way the audience fills in the blanks will be far more
disturbing than anything a writer could possibly come up with. These monsters were graphically designed to
be dark, clouded by shadows and mist, hard to make out and distinguish, but also to provide no doubt that
they are dangerous and predatory.
The monsters AI is driven by a finite state machine consisting of four states Idle, Stalking, Suspicious, and
Angry. The idle state refers to when the monster has not seen the player and is waiting. The stalking state is
when the monster has spotted the player and is slowly sneaking up on them. The angry state is when the
player spots the monster because of a thrown light or because of proximity, and charges at the player. And
finally, the suspicious state is when the monster has seen the player, but cannot see them anymore. While
suspicious, the monster simply moves forward, with the ability to move through walls. This simple technique is
surprisingly effective at making an intense chase, and the player needs to genuinely try to run away in
order to escape.
As previously mentioned there are three pre-positioned enemies in the maze, but there is also another way
that the maze is populated by enemies. Each time the player deactivates a light, there is a small chance
that a monster will spawn in a darkened section of the maze. This mechanic combined with the back-tracking
nature of the maze ensures a constant likelihood of seeing a monster to run from. There were some
safeguards installed to ensure that this function remains clandestine and unobtrusive; a monster will not
spawn in the first 15 seconds of the game, a monster will not spawn within 3 maze sections of the starting
area, a monster will not spawn in the light, a monster will not spawn in the centre room, a monster will not
spawn within 4 maze sections of the players current position, a monster will not spawn anywhere within the
players line of sight, and a monster will not spawn within 3 seconds of another monster being spawned.
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The enemies in this game had a specific purpose. Unlike normal enemies in games, these enemies are not
meant to be beaten by the player, nor are they meant to impede the players progress, but they only exist
to form some kind of basis for the fear. The horrific nature of the experience will be lost if the player ever
decides that there is nothing within the maze that could cause them harm. So for these enemies to serve their
purpose, they needed several specific traits:
They needed to be both overwhelmingly strong and powerful, aiding the feeling of helplessness, and
simultaneously easily avoidable, so that the player does not feel that the game is unfair. By robbing the
player of any offensive capabilities, the only option left for them is to run away, further losing themselves in
the maze. The enemies make an easily distinguishable gasping sound when they havent spotted the
player yet. The sound is loud enough to be heard through one or two walls. This means that if an enemy
happens to be waiting right around the corner, the player has been given a chance to avoid them.
The enemies needed to be scary, not so much in graphical style but in ability and actions. They will kill the
player on contact, but they can be outrun. They make intimidating sounds to heighten tension, but the violin
screech sound plays when the player walks into the monsters field of view, alerting the player that they
have been spotted, giving them a chance to escape.
They needed to give the player sufficient warning that they had spotted them, and were chasing after
them, because otherwise the player could be blindsided and instantly killed. While this would make for an
exceptionally startling moment, it would also be seen as unfair, making the player hate the game rather
than fear the enemies. This was achieved with a violin wail in the soundtrack. This method was chosen
because violins have been shown to increase tension more so than other instruments when played in long,
screeching wails. The sound also doesnt actually emanate from the monster itself, it simply plays in the
players ears with no direction for its source. So while the player is alerted that an enemy is coming, they
are not told from which direction. This too reflects the important balance between overwhelming opposition
and a solid chance of survival.
The enemies will always detect the player if they have a line of sight. The player cannot sneak past them,
but he can outrun them, even furthering the balance. The player is powerless to stop the enemies, but he are
also given a chance to escape.
3.2.5. Implement Oculus Rift
The Oculus Rift initially is easily integrated into unity. All the necessary components are included in a single
plugin. Once the plugin is installed, a player prefab is imported with the cameras calibrated and ready for
use, with head-tracking and keyboard controls already built in, so implementing those elements was no
trouble at all.
In order to swap from the 2D screen layout to the Oculus Rift Layout, two different player objects were
created. They both run on the same script. Once the player progresses to the centre of the maze, the first
player object is deleted, and the second is activated.
When the Oculus Rift player was engaged, the mouse controls would become less precise and consistent.
After significant testing, it was discovered that because the maze generates when the program runs, rather
than the maze already existing on creation, the frame rate when passing the cameras over the maze would
drastically lower, and in response, the mouse control script would greatly increase the turning speed,
causing the player to think they had rotated 90 degrees, when actually they had rotated 180. This was
fixed by pre-building the maze, and editing the script slightly to negate the turn speed alteration. By pre-
building the maze the loading and running CPU cost appeared to decrease, lessening the problem.
There were a few elements that would not transfer from the screen player to the Oculus Rift player, one of
which was the death effect. When the player dies in the screen portion of the game, the player object is
deleted, and a capsule-shaped invisible physics object with an audio listener and camera is created in its
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stead. This allows for the effect of the player being knocked over. This effect would have been doubly
horrifying with the Oculus Rift, but unfortunately it was not possible. The same effect would work, but only
once. The player object would delete and the new cameras on the dummy would take over, but the
developer could not work out how to return dominance of the screen back to the new player object when it
was created.
3.2.6. Include Audio
Sound is pivotal to an immersive experience. (Lankoski, 2009) The music included is subtle, quiet, and
discomforting. It suggests unseen activity within the maze, and the minor chords cause constant tension. This
reason for this is to constantly remind the player that they should be wary and on edge, to maintain the
feeling on unease throughout the experience.
The enemies in the game can be hiding around any corner, which means they can blindside the player at
any moment. This is unfair and frustrating, so the enemies are constantly making a sound which can be heard
from a fair distance away. It is a raspy, breathy, wheezing sound that alerts the player of the proximity of
an enemy.
When an enemy sees the player, the player is warned that they have been spotted by an audio cue a
screech of violins, commonly heard in horror movies upon the appearance of the monster. This serves as both
a fear-inducing element and warns the player of the imminent danger.
When an enemy is within the players line of sight and has been lit by a light source thrown by the player,
or simply moves close enough to the player, the monster lets out an inhuman and intimidating roar, removing
any ambiguity about the fact that this monster is coming to get the player. It sends a message to the player:
Run! The purpose of this message is actually to aid the player by giving them fair warning that they need
to run away to avoid dying.
The audio was designed to be experienced with headphones, so that the player could identify where
sounds were coming from. The headphones also block out any sound coming from the room, aiding greatly
in immersion.
3.2.7. Title screens
In order to orient and instruct the test subjects, both online and on-site, a series of title screens were
implemented before the game proper ran. They instructed the player on the screen section > centre room >
Oculus Rift section > end of maze > questionnaire procedure, the movement controls, the inventory and
player abilities, and a warning that there is danger within the maze. These screens provide important
context for the player, to prepare them and put them in the right state of mind to be ready to experience
fear.
3.2.8. Post-Test Alterations
After the first day of testing, several problems made themselves apparent. For one, the maze was much,
much too hard, and the enemies were too much. People were lost in the maze for longer than 45 minutes,
and the enemies were so fast and persistent that the moment one was spotted, most people chose to simply
stand still and accept their fate rather than run away. This situation needed to be rectified, so the
developer halved the move speed of the enemies, made them disappear faster, and the maze was altered
to be easier. While the completion time for the maze varies greatly still, this simpler version is much more
popular. The enemies now still terrify the players, but they feel like they stand a chance if they try to run.
The developer had to be careful when altering the game after testing had begun if the changes were too
exaggerated, it could compromise the integrity of the test results. Therefore changes were kept as subtle as
possible while remaining effective.
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Several glitches were fixed, including one where monsters would follow the player into the centre chamber
where they could be easily observed and outrun, ruining the tension and fear.
Despite the simplifying of the maze, some people were becoming hopelessly lost to the point of total
frustration. Many possible solutions were considered to rectify this problem, but most of them were
unfeasible due to time constraints. In lieu of a more graceful or creative approach, large directional arrows
were implemented on the floor. They appear if the player is lost in one section of the maze for over 10
minutes, and they guide the player to the end of the section. Running these experiments to schedule was
important enough a priority to justify use of such a bland mechanic.

Picture 7: The arrows (to scale)
After the tests were concluded it was revealed that not a single person utilized the ability to scratch Xs on
the floor. They were aware of the option, but nobody took it as they didnt feel like it was useful, and they
were content to simply wander around forever.
3.3. Difficulties
The latest version of Unity had a bad habit of crashing without explanation. This was a fairly simple matter
to overcome. All that was required was to be vigilant with saving. Progress would be quickly saved after
each and every development, to ensure nothing was lost.
Originally the maze was built using 5 different types of piece, a dead end, a crossroads, a tunnel, a corner,
and a T junction. This method had many inherent problems, for example, double the needed number of
walls was being created, as each wall was shared by two pieces. This caused rendering issues like Z
fighting. The system needed to be reworked, separating walls and floors.
Another impediment was determining whether or not each monster was hidden in darkness or plainly visible.
Ray casting problems caused false results to be consistently returned.
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A further problem was not discovered until halfway through the testing phase the developer didnt trap
the mouse to the centre of the screen. This meant that the game would often minimise itself for online
participants with multiple screens, when they clicked outside of the game window. They were advised to
disconnect any additional screens before running the game.

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4. Experiment
4.1. Design
The experiment is quite simple. Test subjects will play the game wearing headphones and viewing a screen.
They will then complete the first half of the game. When the midpoint is reached, the subject puts on the
Oculus Rift, and completes the second half of the game with it. When the game is complete, the user fills in
a questionnaire, describing their experience and comparing the two styles of immersion. Throughout the test,
the subjects heart rate will be measured, to add credence to the questionnaires.
It should be noted that the sound will always be delivered through headphones, the screen portion of the
test will be in a darkened room, and the screen resolution will be lowered to the equivalent of the Oculus
Rift, so that graphical quality is not a factor.
An original game had to be created to ensure purity of test results. If a previous title had been used, any
test subject who happened to have played it before would have been less scared than they would have
been otherwise. Not to mention the fact that there are not many games available currently that are Oculus
Rift compatible.
4.2. Resources
In order to carry out the experiment, several different software and devices were required. Everything that
cost money was paid for by the author. What follows is a list of the expenditures and acquisitions made for
the purposes of this experiment.
4.2.1. Survey
A license for Survey Monkey was purchased for this test. Survey Monkey has several useful features,
including data analysis and graphing. This allowed me to get the same data from online and real life
participants alike, and greatly simplified the process of gathering results.
4.2.2. The Oculus Rift
In order to develop for and test the Oculus Rift, the project required access to one. After several failed
attempts for the university to provide one, it was privately paid for, and it arrived in the post with ample
time to create and test the game.
4.2.3. Heart Rate Monitor
Measuring the heart rate of test subjects should add credence to the answers provided in the questionnaire.
The heart rate monitor used was a small clip that attaches to the users finger and transmits heart rate data
wirelessly to a laptop. Unfortunately this facet of the experiment was the most troublesome. Firstly there
was a mix-up regarding its acquisition, the test administrator had to purchase one himself, and it wasnt
made available until three days after testing had commenced. Secondly, the software that came with it was
of low quality, and would often crash. Thirdly, as a large number of test participants are contributing from
online, their heart rates could not be measured at all. Fourthly, if the monitor was bumped or shifted, the
program would start playing a loud beeping alarm while the game was in play, ruining the immersion. The
software would not allow the alarm to be turned off, nor could I mute that specific program in the sound
settings. And finally, as the test subjects were using all of their fingers to control the game, the clip had to
be attached to the users toe instead. Some test subjects expressed discomfort at that idea and refused to
be monitored, others flinched during scary moments of the game and disrupted or dislodged the monitor. It
is due these circumstances that the number of useable heart-rate data subjects is so low.
4.2.4. Headphones
To assist in immersion, high-quality headphones were necessary to block out ambient noise and to project
the game sound clearly. A set of Sennheiser headphones were borrowed from the university supplies. They
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were light enough to not encumber the users head motions, while loud and high quality enough to engross
the player and prevent de-immersion from audio distractions from outside of the testing room.
4.2.5. Test Subjects
There are several ways the project acquired test subjects. One was to advertise the tests as entertaining
and put up posters around the university. Another is to utilize the internet, specifically the Oculus Rift
subreddit. (reddit.com/r/oculus) The game was distributed via the Oculus Rift Subreddit and allowed these
people with their own Oculus Rifts to play the game, however this method made heart-rate monitoring
impossible. I also used the Oculus Rift subreddit and the Bournemouth subreddit to advertise the experiment
to the public, and gained a large number of test subjects that way. The questionnaire types were separated
into two categories the heart monitored and the non-heart monitored, to ensure clarity of results.
Word of mouth quickly spread about this device and many people came forward offering to participate in
the experiment. Facebooks ability to promote posts was also utilized to gather subjects from the
Bournemouth University Gamers Society, as well as personal friends of the test administrator.
Once in contact with the test organiser, each subject was booked into a 30 minute timeslot.
All together 56 of the total 60+ people who participated in this experiment were able to contribute their
data. Several of the online test takers began to fill out the questionnaire and never finished it, resulting in
incomplete data sets which needed to be purged. Other test subjects were unable to complete the game
because of overwhelming psychological anguish and terror, while others still were unable to complete the
Oculus Rift section because of induced headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
A large number of the test subjects were acquired through reddit.com, but unfortunately they were highly
unreliable, with just over fifty percent of them making it to their appointments at all. This would have been
an enormous problem, as it would have wasted precious time, but luckily enough several of the more
reliable test subjects brought friends and/or relatives along to participate as well without prior notification.
Perchance, this balanced out rather well into a curious two wrongs making a right situation.
4.2.6. Testing Rooms
In order to ensure immersion during the screen-testing phase the players and computer need to be located
in a dark, quiet room in a place easily accessible to the volunteers. A quiet, windowless room was booked
between 4pm and 6pm every weekday between the 5
th
and the 23
rd
of August. Ideally, the room would
have been booked for longer, but the university has a policy of only allowing students to book rooms for a
maximum of two hours per day. The hours of 4pm to 6pm were selected because most people would have
left work around that time, so it was more likely to fit into the subjects pre-existing schedule. The room was
P105 in the Talbot campus, a psychology lab. It had a one-way mirror that the administrator was eager to
use, but that would have violated the ethics checklist.
The procedure for each test subject was as follows:
i. The subject is welcomed into the room as the test administrator introduces himself
ii. The subject is verbally informed of this procedure, and asked if they understand
iii. The subject signs release form
iv. Subject sits at test computer as administrator calibrates Oculus Rift for subjects head and eyesight
v. Heart monitor is prepared for recording
vi. Game is started and the controls are explained in full to the subject
vii. Subjects puts on headphones and heart monitor starts recording
viii. Administrator switches off the light and leaves the room, subject commences screen portion of game
ix. Upon completion of the screen phase, administrator re-enters the room and fits the Oculus Rift to
the subject, takes the heart monitor off and back on the subject to create a gap to separate the
first and second sections of heart data
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x. Administrator guides the subjects hands back to the keyboard and leaves the room, switching off
the light
xi. On completion of the game, administrator re-enters the room, removes the Oculus Rift, de-activates
the heart monitor, and provides the questionnaire
xii. Subject completes the questionnaire, administrator thanks subject and escorts them to the exit
xiii. Administrator cleans the Oculus Rift lenses and saves the heart rate data
This procedure was followed closely for each test subject, with the occasional exception of the heart rate
monitor. Some subjects refused to allow the device near their feet, and sometimes the heart monitor
software would freeze up for so long that the heart monitor had to be abandoned to stay on schedule. This
process worked extremely well, with very few subjects feeling rushed or confused.
4.3. Ethical Considerations
In an experiment that revolves around terrifying people, obviously some ethical issues arise. The least of
which was confidentiality. The test subjects were not required to give their names on the questionnaire, but
they were required to enter it for the heart rate data. This was to allow the data analyst to match the heart
rate data to each questionnaire. The names of the test participants were erased from the records after the
matching and analysis were complete to protect their confidentiality. In a similar vein, the test subjects had
the option of submitting their email address with their questionnaires if they wished to be sent a copy of this
paper upon its completion. These email addresses were gathered, and then removed from the records.
Among the more pressing ethical considerations was the fact that the experiment is specifically designed to
induce psychological distress. It was ethically necessary to make each and every test subject informed about
the nature of the test that they were taking. To ensure the mental safety of the subjects and legal safety of
the test administrator, a brief release form was created that needed to be signed by each test participant.
This form is included in this paper as appendix one. The form clearly explains the intimidating nature of the
game. It also addresses the other ethical issue the fact that the Oculus Rift has been known to induce
headaches, nausea, and dizziness in some users. The release form also explains this possibility to subjects in
clear and unambiguous language, so that nobody is caught off-guard.
4.4. Expected Results
The expected results of this test were simple, that the subjects would be more afraid of the game while
wearing the Oculus Rift than while using the screen. This was influenced by several sources including online
footage of the reactions of people wearing the Oculus Rift, testimonies of owners and developers, and an
article from Edge Magazine. The sentiment of every opinion researched was that the Oculus Rift is an
incredible experience far superior to anything else the user has previously experienced. While there are
still many unanswered questions, like what kind of controller should be used, could it be made wireless, how
high can the resolution get, and a myriad of others, the seemingly undisputed opinion regarding the
immersiveness of the experience is that it remains unsurpassed.
It is possible that the game would be seen as less scary during the Oculus Rift phase simply because it is the
second part of the game the player knows what to expect by then and therefore some of the suspense
may be lost. It was expected that the Oculus Rift would prove to be scarier and more immersive that the
screen, so it was decided to play that part second, to address the issue. If the results show that the Oculus
Rift is more immersive despite being the second choice, then it only further proves the strength of its
capabilities.
4.5. Results
What follows is the presentation and analysis of the data obtained from the experiment.
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4.5.1. Primary Focus
The primary focus of this study is to determine if the Oculus Rift is more immersive than the screen. This
section of the results will answer that question.
4.5.1.1. Questionnaire
The questionnaire was made up of 13 questions:
1. What is your name?
2. What is your gender?
3. What is your age?
4. Previous experience
a. How often do you experience scary types of entertainment?
b. How easily scared are you?
c. How often do you play first-person games?
d. How good are you at first-person games?
5. Was your heart rate monitored by a test administrator during your game?
6. How scary did you find the game
a. Using the screen?
b. Wearing the Oculus Rift?
7. How immersed did you feel when playing the game...
a. Using the screen?
b. Wearing the Oculus Rift?
8. How much did you enjoy the game?
9. Which part did you find most fun?
10. How easy were the controls to use
a. Using the screen?
b. Wearing the Oculus Rift?
11. Overall, which would you prefer to play the game using?
12. Do you have something you'd like to mention about your experience, the game, the Oculus Rift, the
controls, or anything else about this experiment?
13. If you would like to hear about the results of this paper when it is completed, add your email
address here and the final paper will be sent to you.
This questionnaire was designed to establish exactly what the user felt. Questions one, twelve, and thirteen
were optional, and questions four, six, seven, eight, and ten were answerable with a rating between zero
and five. With this information, the correlation between immersion and fear experienced by each person
could be analysed. Interestingly there is almost no correlation between scare and immersion using the
Oculus Rift, just 0.29, while the correlation between scare and immersion using the screen is much stronger at
0.52, despite the fact that the vast majority of test users found the Oculus Rift both more scary and
immersive!
Out of the survey of 56 people who completed the questionnaire fully, 2 people found the screen more
immersive, 3 people found both options equally immersive, and the remaining 51 people found the Oculus
Rift to be the most immersive. This lack of correlation could mean that the Oculus Rift simply by its nature is
immersive, and the fear is an entirely separate experience altogether.
Each of the people who found both equally immersive rated their proficiency and frequency at first-person-
game playing at the maximum. Unfortunately, this appears to be too small a sample size to draw any
conclusions from. Similar statements can be said about gender and age there were too few female or
over thirty-five year old candidates to draw any conclusions relating to either trait.
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The graphs below shows each test subjects recorded feelings of immersiveness and scariness. You can see
by how much each test subject was frightened and immersed the display types.


Figure 2: A graph showing the scores each test subject gave the immersiveness of each visual output

Figure 3: A graph showing the scores each test subject gave the scariness of each visual output.
These figures show that there is a strong trend towards the Oculus Rift being both scarier and more
immersive than the screen. Only three people found the screen scarier than the Oculus Rift, and only two
people thought the screen was more immersive. However, this data is not flawless. All ratings, other than
heart rate monitoring, are subjective, so some people may rate generously and others harshly, for many
and varied reasons. The following chart looks at each individuals ratings for Scare on Screen (S on S),
Immersion on Screen (I on S), Scare on Oculus Rift (S on OR), and Immersion on Oculus Rift (I on OR) as
percentages of each persons total ratings. Thus it shows the proportions of ratings across each answer and
eliminates any generous-harsh biases. Participants ratings totals were sorted low to high and are
displayed left to right. Thus the more extreme rating variances appear towards the left and the more even
rating variances appear to the right. Those toward the right had a more consistent experience across all
questions and those toward the left had a more varied experience, regardless of actual ratings.
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55
I
m
m
e
r
s
i
v
e
n
e
s
s
Subjects
Immersiveness Comparison
How immersed did you feel when playing the game... - With the screen?
How immersed did you feel when playing the game... - With the Oculus Rift?
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55
S
c
a
r
i
n
e
s
s
Subjects
Scariness Comparison
How scary did you find the game... - Using the screen?
How scary did you find the game... - Wearing the Oculus Rift?
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Figure 4: Percentage distribution of allocated points
Of the total rating points on offer:
18.22% of rating points went to Scare on Screen experience
17.92% of rating points went to Immersion on Screen
30.17% of rating points went to Scare on Oculus Rift
33.69% of rating points went to Immersion on Oculus Rift
After eliminating individual rating bias there is a clear trend in favour of the Oculus Rift experience,
primarily in immersion and secondarily in scare. The total points allocated to the Oculus Rift experiences
are 177% greater than the total points allocated to the screen experiences. A total of 4 people allocated
more points to the screen than the Oculus Rift, thats 2.24%.
This data alone adequately answers the research question sufficiently, but there is still more that can be
learned from it. The following graph shows the average rating given to each device.
Figure 5: Average rating of immersion by device
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With the Oculus Rift?
How immersed did you feel when playing the game...
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This not only reconfirms the previous data, but could provide a rough idea of just how much better the
Oculus Rift is at immersion. This data indicates that the Oculus Rift may be doubly as immersive as the
screen. However, this number is nothing more reliable than an estimate.
Another important part of the questionnaire was the optional comment section. They underline the results of
this test that appear to be arising that the Oculus Rift has its great strengths and is more immersive than a
screen, but is not perfect or objectively better than a screen. Some of these comments are discussed in
greater detail in the additional findings section of this paper.
4.5.1.2. Heart Rate Data
Unfortunately, much of the heart rate data was unusable, as the heart monitor slipped off the subjects foot,
recorded data incorrectly, and/or malfunctioned often. Only 17 heart rate data sets were recorded intact
and conclusive.
The following graphs shows the average heart rate of those users for the screen and Oculus Rift sections of
the game over the average length of time taken to complete each section.

Figure 6: Average heart rate of participants over time during the screen phase

Figure 7: Average heart rate of participants over time during the Oculus Rift phase
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These graphs show that the heart rate increases by 10bpm during the first part, and then by another
10bpm in the Oculus Rift section.
The screen data suggests that the game is scary enough to raise the players heart rate, and as the game
continues past its halfway point, the increase of fear decelerates, as the player gets used to the game, the
heart rate deviates around 95bpm. Then, when the Oculus Rift is put on, the user takes a few moments to
ease into the feel of the Oculus Rift and the controls, during which the heart rate lowers, and then the heart
rate increases steadily during play until they reach the end of the game. This is despite the fact that the
Oculus Rift section was played second, and the test subjects knew what to expect and were therefore better
prepared than the first time. Despite this disadvantage, the Oculus Rift still held a higher average heart
rate than the screen. This strongly suggests that the Oculus Rift is scarier than the screen, and therefore more
immersive.

Figure 8: Comparison of heart rates
The above graph shows that the Oculus Rift heart rate was consistently higher throughout the duration of the
experiment.
4.5.1.3. Summary
Both the questionnaire and the heart rate data suggest that the Oculus Rift is more immersive than the
screen to the high majority of people; however it causes nausea or headaches in roughly 12% of
participants, de-immersing them completely. The specific amount of difference in immersion between the two
options is much too ambiguous to quantify, but this study provides evidence towards the Oculus Rift having a
greater immersive capability than an ordinary computer screen. Even though the sample size of heart-
monitored subjects is low and could therefore be seen as inconclusive, what data exists matches the
questionnaire responses, which would suggest that what little exists is nonetheless accurate.
The heart rate data and the questionnaire results both demonstrate that the Oculus Rift is on average more
immersive, scarier, more fun, and induces a higher heart rate than a computer monitor. While the data is by
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no means flawless, this study provides convincing evidence towards the Oculus Rifts claims of being the more
immersive option.
Therefore the answer to the research question appears to quite simply be Yes.
4.5.2. Additional Findings
One of the biggest problems with the Oculus Rift appears to be that it induces headaches, dizziness, or
nausea in some users. Of the people tested, 12% experienced one of these negative effects. 50% of those
who felt an adverse effect like this from the Oculus Rift were female. As previously stated however, the
sample size of female volunteers is too low to draw any meaningful conclusions from. This affliction of illness
by the Oculus Rift has a devastating effect on the immersion of the player.
Another interesting piece of information is that the Oculus Rift appears to increase the immersion of deaf
people as well. There was only one deaf test subject, and he stated in his questionnaire
When I put on the Oculus Rift and saw the first enemy chasing me down, I
had a very strong adrenaline spike and ran away.
Considering that sound plays an extremely important part of horror, this is a notable discovery. This was
one of many interesting comments left by some test subjects. Here are some of the other more interesting
comments left:
I think the experience is quite better on the screen only, mainly because the
poor quality of the image using of the Oculus Rift. Played in a dark room, I felt
much more immersed with the screen version.
This is a valid complaint, as the resolution of the version of the Oculus Rift that is currently available is a
small 1280x800, and when using it a certain screen door effect is apparent, as the user can see each
individual pixel. However this particular concern can be safely discarded from this experiment, as the
released version for the public will fix the low resolution issue and be presented in 1080p.
Overall, I wasn't really scared. However, I think the Rift experience would
have been much scarier if I hadn't played through first on a monitor.
This was a potential problem I had identified before testing began. If the Oculus Rift had been the first part
of the game and the testing proved successful, it could have been argued that the success of the Oculus Rift
was due entirely to that fact. Instead, it was hoped that the immersive capability of the Oculus Rift would
overpower the disadvantage of coming second, and indeed that has been the case.
Weirdly enough, I actually found navigating the maze easier with the
Oculus - I had a much better sense of orientation and direction than I had just
using the screen.
This could easily be the subject of another paper How the Oculus Rift affects navigations skills in games.
Some test subjects mentioned similar thoughts verbally to the test administrator once their test was complete.
how accurate are the sound cues for deciding whether to turn left or right?
There were no sound cues for deciding to turn left or right. I imagine this test subject had an extremely
confusing time attempting to follow an audio trail that didnt exist. This may be an example of an
unforeseeable and unpreventable problem, and a reminder that this sort of thing can happen during any
experiment.
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I would prefer to play the game on screen as the controls were very
disconcerting when using the Oculus. Overall the experience was better on the
Oculus apart from that
This subject is not alone, over 25% of the test subjects believed that the keyboard and mouse was more
difficult to use while wearing the Oculus Rift. The most common selection with thirty-six votes was that the
mouse and keyboard were both extremely easy to use, rating both at the maximum.
It should be kept in mind that the game created for this experiment had exceedingly simple controls. It is
suspected that the screen preference would increase for a game requiring more complicated user input, as
the user would be unable to look down at the keyboard and relocate the required keys while wearing an
Oculus Rift.
Alternative input mechanism options for the Oculus Rift include console controllers, omnidirectional treadmills,
and the Razer Hydra. Which of these is superior could be the topic of another paper, but was not in the
scope of this project.
Despite the small problems with controls, headaches, and other annoyances, the overall feeling about the
Oculus Rift is that it is immersive and, at the very least, fun.
Even in horror games where the goal is to be terrified, the fact that it is a simulation allows some users the
ability to enjoy the fear, to take pleasure in the emotional high they receive, fun is a major part of
interactive entertainment. A game that is not enjoyable at some level is not a game by definition. The
following graph shows that the Oculus Rift was also deemed to be the more fun option by the majority of
test subjects.
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Figure 9: Keyboard control situation found easiest
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Figure 10: Most fun option
The Oculus Rift being both more immersive and more fun seems to override the control issues that some
people had. Despite the flaws and the incompleteness of the developer version of the Oculus Rift, people
generally tend to prefer the Oculus Rift over the screen overall.

Figure 11: Preferred display method
These graphs alone say much about the Oculus Rift experience. When held alongside the other graphs in
this paper, they make a convincing case for the Oculus Rift being a large step forward in the field of
interactive entertainment.
7.1%
80.4%
12.5%
Which part did you find the most fun?
Screen Oculus Rift Both Equally
16.1%
83.9%
Overall, which would you prefer to play the game using?
Screen Oculus Rift
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4.6. Reflection
Upon reflection of the entire process, several improvements to my process and decisions have become
apparent. For example, to increase my sample size, multiple Oculus Rifts could have been purchased. As
previously discussed, it was necessary for the author to buy the Oculus Rift himself, as any purchased by the
university at that late date would not arrive until August. If however, the first Oculus Rift was still purchased
by the author, but the order for the universities Oculus Rifts was maintained, then the developer could have
created the game using his, and then had several Oculus Rifts for use during the testing phase, multiplying
the amount of testable subjects many times. One of the biggest problems was that having only one Oculus
Rift available, test subjects needed to be tested one at a time. Having one more would have doubled the
potential amount of testers. Also if the author/university had been prepared to pay a small amount of
funds, advertising posters could have been fabricated and posted around the local area to attract more
interest.
The aim of this paper was to provide objective evidence towards the Oculus Rifts immersiveness, and the
most objective part of the experiment the heart rate data was also its weakest point. If it was possible,
the author would have preferred to spend more time researching heart rate monitors and other alternatives
like sweat tests, EEGs, and other devices for measuring emotive testing.
4.7. Future Work
Having provided evidence towards the immersive capability of the Oculus Rift, the next course of action
chosen would be to determine the optimal control setup and hardware to go with it. There are many options
available; including the mouse and keyboard, console controllers, the Leap Motion, Mycestro, the STEM
system, the omnidirectional treadmill, and many others. Determining the strengths and weaknesses of each
would help determine the nature of immersive input in virtual reality games, which would be a helpful
contribution to virtual reality gaming as a whole.
Otherwise, the next paper would focus on how the Oculus Rift affects navigation as previously mentioned in
the additional findings section. The feeling of being in the world positively affecting the cognitive abilities
of the user could have enormous and fascinating consequences that the author would have great interest in
being a part of.
On a more selfish note, the author may convert the test into a marketable game by hiring an animator,
designer, and modeller to upgrade the graphics and mechanics for a paying audience. This would both
generate income for the author and help promote the Oculus Rift further.
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5. Conclusion
This experiment entailed creating a game for the purpose of testing the immersive capabilities of the Oculus
Rift in comparison to a regular computer monitor. After the successful planning and design of the game and
experiment, the results of both a subjective questionnaire and an objective measurement of heart rates
indicate that in general, the Oculus Rift is more immersive than a monitor, and more effective at
communicating horror. While roughly twelve percent of the population may be affected with dizziness,
nausea, or headaches, those that do not will likely find the experience more fun and more immersive. The
control scheme is not optimal, but it is sufficient for simple games. Despite its minor shortcomings, the Oculus
Rift is a superior device for immersion over a regular computer screen.
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6. Acknowledgements
Palmer Luckey and the entire Oculus VR Company
The Oculus Rift Subreddit
Unity Technologies
Declan OBrien
Sarah Wall
Jon Cobb
Feng Tian
Soundbible.com
PangPlast
dl-sounds.com
turbosquid.com

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7. Reference
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HTTP://DESIGNERSNOTEBOOK.COM/COLUMNS/063_POSTMODERNISM/063_POSTMODERNISM.HTM
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BJORK, S., AND HOLOPAINEN, J., 2004. PATTERNS IN GAME DESIGN. HINGHAM, MASS.: CHARLES RIVER MEDIA.
BOS, D. O., 2009. EEG-BASED EMOTION RECOGNTION. THESIS. UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE.
BROOKS, K. 2003. THERE IS NOTHING VIRTUAL ABOUT IMMERSION: NARRATIVE IMMERSION FOR VR AND OTHER INTERFACES:
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY.
CANNON, W. B., 1915. BODILY CHANGES IN PAIN, HUNGER, FEAR AND RAGE
AN ACCOUNT OF RECENT RESEARCHES INTO THE FUNCTION OF EMOTIONAL EXCITEMENT. D. APPLETON & COMPANY.
AVAILABLE FROM:
HTTP://SEARCH.EBSCOHOST.COM/DIRECT.ASP?DB=PZH&JID=%22200415415%22&SCOPE=SITE.
CARMEIN, D. E. E., 1996. OMNI-DIRECTIONAL TREADMILL. USA 626671 FILED ON 12/12/1990.
CHOI, J., AND GUTIERREZ-OSUNA, R., 2009. USING HEART RATE MONITORS TO DETECT MENTAL STRESS. THESIS. TEXAS A&M
UNIVERSITY.
COX, A. L., JENNETT, C., CAIRNS, P., DHOPAREE, S., EPPS, A., TIJS, T., AND WALTON, A., MEASURING AND DEFINING THE
EXPERIENCE OF IMMERSION IN GAMES. THESIS. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON.
EARNSHAW, R. A., GIGANTE, M. A., AND JONES, H., 1993. VIRTUAL REALITY SYSTEMS. LONDON: ACADEMIC PRESS.
FREEMAN, D., 2004. CREATING EMOTION IN GAMES : THE CRAFT AND ART OF EMOTIONEERING. INDIANAPOLIS, IND.: NEW
RIDERS.
MILLER, F. P., AND VANDOME, A. F., 2009. IMMERSION (VIRTUAL REALITY). MAURITIUS: ALPHASCRIPT PUBLISHING.
PINCHBECK, D., 2009. SHOCK, HORROR: FIRST-PERSON GAMING, HORROR, AND THE ART OF LUDIC MANIPULATION. IN:
PERRON, B. ED. MATCH MADE IN HELL: THE INEVITABLE SUCCESS OF THE HORROR GENRE IN VIDEO GAMES. NORTH
CAROLINA: MCFARLAND, 77-93.
ROUSE III, R., 2009. MATCH MADE IN HELL: THE INEVITABLE SUCCESS OF THE HORROR GENRE IN VIDEO GAMES. IN: PERRON,
B. ED. HORROR VIDEO GAMES, ESSAYS ON THE FUSION OF FEAR AND PLAY. NORTH CAROLINA: MCFARLAND, 13-
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RYAN, M.-L., 2003. NARRATIVE AS VIRTUAL REALITY : IMMERSION AND INTERACTIVITY IN LITERATURE AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA.
N.E. ED. BALTIMORE: JOHNS HOPKINS U.P.
SHIELDS, R., 2002. THE VIRTUAL. LONDON: ROUTLEDGE.
SOFGE, E., 2010. THE TRUTH ABOUT ROBOTS AND THE UNCANNY VALLEY: ANALYSIS. POPULAR MECHANICS. AVAILABLE
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STAFF, E., 2013. THE REAL THING. EDGE MAGAZINE, 6.
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INTELLIGENT SIGNAL AND IMAGING RESEARCH, DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS ENGINEERING,
UNIVERSITI TEKNOLOGI PETRONAS, PERAK, MALAYSIA.
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VINCE, J., 1998. ESSENTIAL VIRTUAL REALITY FAST : HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE TECHNIQUES AND POTENTIAL OF VIRTUAL
REALITY. LONDON: SPRINGER.

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8. Appendix 1 Release Form
Release Form
I understand that the use of the Oculus Rift can be mentally involving, scary, and/or may
induce nausea, headaches and/or dizziness.
I understand that the video game I am about to play is designed to induce fear. I certify that I
have no heart condition or other medical issue that could cause myself or others harm that
could be triggered, agitated, or induced by playing a scary game. I do not have epilepsy that
can be triggered by video games or flashing lights.
I understand that I am free to abandon the test at any time if I feel that the fear/discomfort is
too much, although if the test is abandoned prior to the Oculus Rift section, this would
disqualify my data from the results.
I release any and all test administrators from legal responsibility for my physical and mental
health and safety.



Test Participant Name (Print):

_________________________________________________________________

Signed: Date:

______________________________ ________________