Playful User-Generated Treatment: A Novel Game Design Approach for VR Exposure Therapy


Overcoming a range of challenges that traditional therapy faces, VRET yields great potential for the treatment of phobias such as acrophobia, the fear of heights. We investigate this potential and present playful user-generated treatment (PUT), a novel game-based approach for VRET. Based on a requirement analysis consisting of a literature review and semi-structured interviews with professional therapists, we designed and implemented the PUT concept as a two-step VR game design. To validate our approach, we conducted two studies. (1) In a study with 31 non-acrophobic subjects, we investigated the effect of content creation on player experience, motivation and height perception, and (2) in an online survey, we collected feedback from professional therapists. Both studies reveal that the PUT approach is well applicable. In particular, the analysis of the user study shows that the design phase leads to increased interest and enjoyment without notably influencing affective measures during the exposure session. Our work can help guiding researchers and practitioners at the intersection of game design and exposure therapy.

Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play