Inclusion of third-person perspective in CAVE-like immersive 3D virtual reality role-playing games for social reciprocity training of children with an autism spectrum disorder


The present study aimed to improve the ability of children with autism to recognize emotions correctly. We used our third-person perspective role-playing game (TPP-RPG) method to teach social skills and help develop an improved understanding of the six basic emotions. The experiment was divided into two phases: The first involved working with traditional figure card emotional recognition and the second involved a subject entering a 3D cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE) to engage with interactive games. While the traditional graphic card is a static picture that represents one of the six basic human emotions, the virtual reality of CAVE-like immersive 3D role-playing games enables the use of actual picture scene syntheses plus the animation of 3D characters to express emotions. The participating children were instructed to role-play with (1) three-dimensional (3D) virtual role animations and observe (2) two different real-time switchable role-play animations of themselves and their counterpart socially interacting. This single-subject study was based on multiple-baseline, across-subject design and involved 5 weeks of TPP-RPG training intervention. From this research activity, we found that the role-play performance of all three participants rose substantially during the intervention phase and remained significantly higher in the maintenance phase compared to their baseline levels.

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We are grateful to the participants, therapists, and family members who participated in the study as well as the participants who assisted in the various phases of the study. We would also like to thank the individuals who participated in this research and the Autism and Developmental Research Center in Taiwan.


This work is supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (MOST 107-2218-E-027 -013 -MY2). The authors thank the referees very much for their valuable comments and suggestions on this paper.

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Correspondence to I-Jui Lee.

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Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Parts of the social scripts used in the experiments

  Scenes Related character Social scripts Related character feelings Respond to each other’s social actions
1 Park Friends Joe borrowed a toy car from Tom. Joe accidentally broke a wheel while playing with the car. Tom saw it and said: “Hum! You broke my toy car. I don’t want to be nice to you! “ Anger Apologize (bow)
2 Park Friends When Tina was playing in the park, she met her new friend Allen. Allen said to Tina: “Hi, we will play together in the future, we will be good friends.” Happiness Hold hands
3 Living room Mother Peter was at home because his mother had gone shopping. She was gone a long time and he had to spend a long time waiting for her. “Why didn’t my mother come back yet? Why is she so late?” Fear Ask hugs
4 Living room Mother Today, my mother cooked John’s favorite food for dinner. John said at dinner: “Awesome, I am getting my favorite—half-boiled eggs tonight!” Happiness Ask hugs
5 Park Friends On the way home, when Lion was going through an alley, he saw his good friend Ali suddenly appears. “Wow! Why are you hiding here? You scared me!” he exclaimed. Surprise Express surprise (action)
6 Living room Mother When Lina came home from practicing riding a bicycle, her mother saw her palm was injured. Her mother asked what happened to Lina and she said: “I accidentally fell and it hurts!” Sadness Ask hugs
7 Class room Friends Gino and Archie are good friends and both like animations. At school, Gino said to Archie: “Did you watch that animation yesterday? Super funny!” Happiness High five
8 Class room Friends Bob borrowed a pencil with Joanna, but Bob lost the pencil. Joanna complained to the teacher: “Teacher, he lost my pencil!” Disgust Raise hand
9 Park Friends Danny was lost in a hide-and-seek game with friends and said: “Where am I? I have accidentally run into a strange place” Fear Ask for help
10 Class room Classmate Bill made an appointment with his classmates to play after class, but when he was about to go out he saw that it was raining: “Oh! Why is it raining ~ Now I can’t go out to play!” Sadness Talk to classmate (action)

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Tsai, W., Lee, I. & Chen, C. Inclusion of third-person perspective in CAVE-like immersive 3D virtual reality role-playing games for social reciprocity training of children with an autism spectrum disorder. Univ Access Inf Soc (2020).

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  • CAVE-like immersive environments
  • Autism
  • Third-person perspective
  • Virtual Reality CAVE
  • Role-playing game
  • Human–computer interaction
  • Empathy