The Social Interaction Experiences of Older People in a 3D Virtual Environment

  • Panote SiriarayaEmail author
  • Chee Siang Ang
Part of the Human–Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)


Virtual worlds offer much potential in supporting social interaction for older adults, particularly as a platform which can provide an interactive and immersive social experience. Yet, there has not been much work carried out to study the use, interaction and behavior of older people in 3D virtual world systems, especially studies which investigate their interactions in a fully functional virtual world. Most focus on issues related to usability such as cognitive difficulties when navigation in a 3D space and we know little about their perceptions and preferences when socializing in a virtual space. In this chapter, we report an experimental study examining the various factors which affected the social experience of older users in virtual worlds. The study involved 38 older participants engaging with a 3D and non-3D virtual grocery store. A mixed method of questionnaire and contextual interview was used for data collection and analysis. Overall, we found that physical presence was a significant predictor of many measures defining the quality of social interaction, yet participants often reported a sense of artificiality in their virtual experience. Interestingly, avatars were not considered directly important for social interaction and instead were only seen as a “place holder” to complete the tasks. Two factors contributed to this, the lack of non-verbal communication and the perceived difficulty in embodying physical people with virtual avatars.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kyoto Sangyo UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.University of KentCanterburyUK

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