Virtual Reality (VR) has not only been successfully applied in entertainment but also in the treatment of various psychological disorders. Furthermore, promising benefits for VR with respect to educational applications are currently researched. On the one hand, these new trends are promising. On the other hand, the development of according applications requires new principles of interface and information design. Recently, the application of Serious Gaming principles has been proposed to augment and improve educational and therapeutic VR applications and their beneficial impact on the user. To discuss this development, the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM) hosted the second "Virtual Environments: Current Topics in Psychological Research" (VECTOR) workshop from July 25 to July 27, 2018.
On three days, researchers and interested students from Tübingen and around the world discussed current developments of VR and Serious Gaming in therapeutic and educational applications, as well as in basic research and exchanged their expertise in designing and evaluating such applications.
Starting with tutorials on the first day, talks and poster sessions followed on the second and the third day of the workshop. On Thursday, Mareike Gooßes (University of Cologne, Fig. 1) opened with her talk on the application of exergames in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. Following a talk session on the application of Serious Games in therapy and education, and a poster session (Fig. 2), Valerie Shute (Florida State University, Fig. 3) gave her talk on stealth assessment in educational games and discussed the new possibilities of continuous evaluation and feedback regarding the learner’s success in such applications. Lab tours at the IWM and a presentation of the TüDiLab concluded the schedule on Thursday. Friday began with Marta Ferrer-García’s (University of Barcelona, Fig. 4) talk on the main characteristics and uses of VR in the study, assessment, and treatment of eating disorders. After a talk session on the application of VR in research of agency, social cognition and spatial cognition, Prof. Giuseppe Riva (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Fig. 5) gave the last keynote lecture. Riva gave an overview of the promising applications of VR in the treatment and diagnosis of different psychological disorders. The workshop concluded with a panel discussion: Marta Ferrer-García, Christian Plewnia (University Hospital of Tübingen), Giuseppe Riva, Stephan de la Rosa (Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics) and Valerie Shute reflected and discussed inter alia which technical and theoretical, but also ethical and political challenges remain when fostering the large-scale application of software assisted therapies and trainings.
The 2nd VECTOR workshop showed the current state of the development of VR applications and their augmentation with game elements. It demonstrated the possibilities, but also the challenges of interdisciplinary cooperation at this hub between psychotherapy, education, game design, medicine, and computer science.
The workshop was a cooperation between the IWM and the University of Tübingen, further support came from the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN), the Serious Gaming Society, and the University Hospital of Tübingen.