In July 2014 I defended my PhD thesis titled “Spatial Mapping in virtual environments: The effects of stereoscopy and natural mapping on user experience “. The book has been published by Springer VS Research in early 2015:

Pietschmann, Daniel. (2015). Spatial Mapping in virtuellen Umgebungen. Relevanz räumlicher Informationen für die User Experience und Aufgabenleistung. Wiesbaden: Springer.

Buch-CoverPrevious research in games, film or HCI primarily concentrated on direct effects of stereoscopic representation without considering interaction processes between input and output modalities. Recent studies in games (Takatalo, Kawai, Kaistinen, Nyman & Häkkinen, 2011; Elson, Van Looy, Vermeulen & Van den Bosch, 2012) found no evidence of enhanced experiences resulting from stereoscopic presentation. They suggest that the percentage of the whole experience that is determined by the stereoscopic presentation is insignificant or very small at best.

I argue that, more specific, UX should only be enriched, if the virtual environments (VE) enable users to meaningfully map mental representations of input space, task/content and output space. Based on the process model of spatial presence formation (Wirth et al., 2007), mental models (more precisely: spatial situation models; SSM) are constructed during the reception process. The quality of a user’s SSM determines the resulting UX in forms of spatial presence experiences.

The thesis concentrates on mapping of input and output spaces in VE and the tasks that are adaquate enough for this setup to profit in terms of enjoyment, spatial presence, and performance. To explore this, I conducted several experiments with stereoscopic interactive media (computer games and VR simulators) with varying degrees of tasks, task adequacy and naturalness of the user interface to validate a theoretical path model of spatial mapping effects.

Central research questions of the dissertation were:
  • What factors are relevant for mapping input, content and output spaces in virtual environments?
  • How can the mapping process be represented in a theoretical model for interactive media?
  • To what extend does the quality of natural mapping influence the construction of spatial situation models, the formation of spatial presence and enjoyment?
  • Is the theoretical benefit of stereoscopic presentation in high natural mapping scenarios empirically evident?
  • How does the adequacy of the task/content mediate the effects?