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Engaging interaction: designing for immersive and sustained user experiences

PhD-Thesis of Dmitry Alexandrovsky (2021)

Engaging interaction: designing for immersive and sustained user experiences

Engagement has become a fundamental research topic in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).
Extending the notion of traditional usability, HCI has focused on the hedonic properties of
interactive systems. In particular, gameful design and multimodal interaction received much
attention in the literature. However, despite a significant and growing body of research on
engaging design, many interactive systems for learning, training and, health intervention
suffer from low participation and massive attrition. The present work tackles this gap and
investigates how interaction design can support a sustainable engagement with interactive
systems. As engagement is a manifold construct that involves affective, cognitive and behavioral
components. In this thesis, it is conceptualized from the perspectives of experience
intensity and in terms of user behavior. These two perspectives are addressed in three threads
of research: (i) game design for user engagement: effects of game elements on engagement,
(ii) haptic interaction in engaging environments: effects of interaction modality on engagement,
and (iii) assessment methods of user engagement in immersive environments: effects of
embedded assessment methods on engagement. The thread on game design is twofold. This
work presents the snacking framework, which consists of five game mechanics that facilitate
a regular but brief play pattern. The snacking framework was first developed and evaluated
using a casual game and then transferred onto a serious game. Adjacent to the snacking game
mechanics, for a special case of serious games in the context of exposure therapy in Virtual
Reality (VR), this work discusses an alternative approach to game design which employs an
approach of playful user-generated content. The interaction design investigates the effects of
haptic interaction on user engagement. This thread of research examines how static passive
props both in VR as well as in the physical reality and interaction with sand – as a form
of passive shape-changing props – in VR affect the user engagement. The meta-research on
measurement methods developed and evaluated an approach that allows administering subjective
self-reports in the form of questionnaires directly in the virtual environments. On a
macro-level, these lines of research conceptualize the design for user engagement holistically
and afford prescriptive design elements. On the micro-level, this dissertation extends existing
theories of engagement and reveals how different design elements affect user behavior and the
intensity of experiences with interactive systems.

 

Thesis online