My Heart Will Go On: Implicitly Increasing Social Connectedness by Visualizing Asynchronous Players’ Heartbeats in VR Games

Hirsch, Linda and Müller, Florian and Chiossi, Francesco and Benga, Theodor and Butz, Andreas Martin

Abstract: Social games benefit from social connectedness between players because it improves the gaming experience and increases enjoyment. In virtual reality (VR), various approaches, such as avatars, are developed for multi-player games to increase social connectedness. However, these approaches are lacking in single-player games. To increase social connectedness in such games, our work explores the visualization of physiological data from asynchronous players, i.e., electrocardiogram (ECG). We identified two visualization dimensions, the number of players, and the visualization style, after a design workshop with experts (N=4) and explored them in a single-user virtual escape room game. We spatially and temporally integrated the visualizations and compared two times two visualizations against a baseline condition without visualization in a within-subject lab study (N=34). All but one visualization significantly increased participants’ feelings of social connectedness. Heart icons triggered the strongest feeling of connectedness, understanding, and perceived support in playing the game.


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