The central premise in film is to draw the spectator in and engage them in what is happening on screen. The same can be said to apply to interactive media, especially visually mediated environments, such as computer games and virtual and mixed reality. The idea is to draw the user into the media and encourage them to continue to use it, “staying there” to pursue their activities and continue the experience.
So how is this achieved? Dr Marsh has developed many techniques.
One technique in particular has extended guidelines from cinematography and editing techniques for use in informing the design and placement of features in the virtual world to help user’s comprehension of off-screen space. Dr Marsh’s publications describe a study that shows these guidelines aid users in navigating virtual space, reduce user disorientation and thereby help people stay connected to the gaming or mediated experience. Microsoft Research has built on these guidelines and developed HALO, a technique for visualizing the location and distance of off-screen destinations on the restricted display screens of vehicle navigation devices.
More recently, Dr Marsh has used the idea of staying there as the basis to evaluate the effectiveness of “serious” games in their educational role and establish which design elements work, which do not and inform development to make improvements.
Dr Marsh will present his recent findings at the conference Digital Interactive Media Entertainment & Art (DIME) 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand, in October. This follows publication in the ACM SIGGRAPH Video Games Symposium 2006 in Boston, MA, USA and Fun n’ Games 2006 in the United Kingdom.
Dr Marsh is also working towards the development of approaches for the evaluation of, and design for experience that is induced or evoked in, or witnessed by users of digital media. Toward this end, he is extending the concepts and techniques from filmmaking and film spectators’ experience to formulate a framework of experience for analysis and design of interactive media.
This framework is comprised of three levels of experience, referred to as the 3Vs: voyeuristic (the joy of seeing the new and the wonderful), visceral (thrill of spectacle and attractions), and vicarious (transfer of emotion through another person, being, object or character). Dr Marsh argues that stimulating experience encourage users in “staying there”. Key works in human-computer interaction (HCI) have adopted this framework and used it to inform experiential design of technological products.
In recent and ongoing research Dr Marsh has also explored further ways to capture and reason about engagement through vicarious and empathic experience with and between user-player-actors and synthetic characters. This work is described in the proceedings of AISB 2005 (Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behavior) and in a chapter in “Gaming as Culture: Essays on Reality, Identity and Experience in Fantasy Games”, MacFarlane (2006).
Dr Marsh has coined the terms “vicariously there” to describe this sense of user-player-actor engagement and “virtual corpsing” or “corpsing” (derived from a UK acting term) to describe the break in engagement or falling out of character. Again, one of the main ideas behind this work is to enhance the mediated or gaming experience.
Digital games provide the potential for players to assume the role of anyone or anything they choose and studying the vicarious and empathic connection between players and their own and other characters is an important step towards understanding and informing the development of more complex character. More complex characters can help stimulate players, encouraging them to keep playing and so continue being “vicariously there”.
Some of Dr Marsh's related publications are:
Tim Marsh. 2003. Presence as Experience: film informing ways of staying there, Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 12:5, pp. 538-549.
Tim Marsh, Kiyoung Yang, Cyrus Shahabi and Seon Ho Kim. 2006. Immersidata Management and Analysis for Game Development and Assessment for Staying There, Digital Interactive Media Entertainment & Arts (DIME-ARTS 2006), Bangkok, Thailand, October 2006 (accepted).
Tim Marsh, Kiyoung Yang and Cyrus Shahabi, 2006. Game development for experience through staying there. ACM SIGGRAPH Video Games Symposium, Boston, USA, July 2006.
Tim Marsh, Shamus Smith, Kiyoung Yang and Cyrus Shahabi. 2006. Continuous and Unobtrusive Capture of User-Player Behaviour and Experience to Assess and Inform Game Design and Development, 1st World Conference for Fun 'n Games, UK, June 2006.
Tim Marsh, Kiyoung Yang and Cyrus Shahabi. 2005. Vicariously there: connected with and through our own and other characters, In: Proceedings of the AISB 2005 Virtual Social Characters Symposium: Empathic Interaction Theme, University of Hertfordshire, UK, pp. 115-121.
Tim Marsh and Peter Wright. 2000. Using Cinematography Conventions to Inform the Design and Evaluation of Virtual Off-Screen Space, In: Proceedings of AAAI 2000 Spring Symposium, "Smart Graphics", SIGGRAPH/Eurographics, Stanford, CA, USA, pp. s123-127.
A more extensive list can be downloaded here.
A document containing a visualization of the reearch is available for download here.