Immersive cultural experiences

VR opens the possibilities for both experts and non-experts to experience art and culture (Bellini et al. 2018).The immersive experience can bring new perspectives to both, allowing museum-goers to see the art in ways that they could not in reality. Furthermore,VR can offer an interactive and more “hands-on” experience for cultural exhibits than would be possible otherwise; most cultural artifacts are displayed behind barriers and cannot be touched or examined too closely. Science museums, for example, provide many opportunities to learn by doing that intrigue, captivate, and stimulate the minds of visitors (Carrozzino & Bergamasco 2010). VR holds the potential to bring these types of experiences to more traditional museums, allowing visitors to enjoy the art in new ways without endangering the pieces of art themselves.

Virtual exhibitions in museums are not an entirely new concept (Lepouras & Vassilakis 2004; Styliani et al. 2009; Wojciechowski et al. 2004), but with the increasing availability and decreasing cost ofVR systems there is currently a need for further investigation of what exactly the technology can provide. Beyond the obvious uses of virtual museums, such as replicating a museum or its items in 3D, lie other less explored opportunities. An interesting use ofVR for museums is in supplementing the museum experience and adding new ways to appreciate and connect with the exhibits. This topic was explored in a study by Hiirst et al. (Hiirst et al. 2016) where Van Gogh’s Stony Night was expanded from beyond the picture frame and onto surrounding walls in a virtual environment. Participants wearing a head-mounted display (HMD) navigated a virtual museum with three differently designed rooms displaying Starry Night, two with artistic effects around the painting, and one with only the painting on a blank wall. The study found that participants enjoyed the rooms with the artistic effects over the blank room. Interestingly, participants expressed that this preference was only for the virtual environment and that, in a real museum, the supplementary effects would distract too much from the actual work of art (ibid.). Participants wanted that extra element in the virtual world to experience something more than what was normally experienced in reality; although a museum setting is familiar, the unfamiliar element of the morphing paintings creates a whole new perspective (Bosworth & Sarah 2019).This point is important forVR designers and content creators in that they should carefully examine whether the experience is unique or if it is too much like everyday life.

User experience

As outlined by Shin and Biocca (2018), knowledge of the user experience ofVR and immersive journalism is still evolving, and research has yet to catch up with the needs of content creators and journalists. Although well-known news organizations such as The New York Times have been producing increasingly more immersive 360- degree content over the past few years, much of the content is still largely experimental (Sirkkunen et al. 2016). Further, a lack of unified guidelines and models that creators can follow to craft positive experiences for users presents a challenge to those in the field of immersive journalism (Shin & Biocca 2018). Although research on these experiences is growing, there is still a large amount of uncertainty' as to what a “good” experience is, what a “bad” experience is, and how this can be generalized across the population of varied users and use cases. The visual quality and realism are constantly evolving; however, the quality of experience and acceptance of the quality' are dependent not only on the capturing and viewing technology, but also on other vital aspects such as the content or story, context of use, and even the quality of the audio (Jumisko-Pyykko 2011). Immersive journalism could therefore benefit by further understanding the various UX elements of VR, as well as how they apply specifically to immersive journalism and storytelling inVR.

To create a truly immersive and engaging experience, elements of storytelling are vital. Storytelling has been utilized in the entertainment and gaming industries and is an obvious companion for immersive journalism andVR experiences, but it is not yet clear exactly how storytelling affects users’ experiences in VR. However, there are promising results that highlight the additional engagement that immersive storytelling brings. Journalism in itself is a form a storytelling, a means for the public to not only receive news but also to feel involved and engrossed in the story and information presented. With immersive journalism, the public can feel that they are actually a part of the story, whether through direct participation or passive observation (Lugrin et al. 2010).This deep sense of involvement is largely due to feeling immersed and present in the story. Although immersion is given many different definitions, it is most widely defined as the sense of being in the virtual environment that is enabled by the technology', hardware, and objective qualities of the VR system (Slater 2003). Presence, on the other hand, is the subjective experience of “being there” that is derived from an individual’s perception of immersion (Slater 2003). These qualities of immersive storytelling can transform traditionally extrinsic emotions into more personal, intrinsic feelings (de la Pena et al. 2010).

In addition to storytelling, there are many other elements that influence VR experiences that can be understood from the perspective of the field of UX.The Components of User Experience (CUE) model by Thiiring and Mahlke (2007) has proven to be useful in examining virtual experiences (Wienrich et al. 2018; Kelling et al. 2017).The CUE model focuses on how users perceive three areas of UX when interacting with a system: instrumental qualities, non-instrumental qualities, and emotional reactions (Thiiring & Mahlke 2007).The user then experiences these characteristics in a unique way and forms a certain emotional reaction, and this combination results in the user’s overall experience of the system. From a somewhat different perspective, Hassenzahl (2005) approaches experience with an emphasis on the pragmatic and hedonic characteristics of a product or system. Pragmatic attributes satisfy the utility or usability of a product or system, while hedonic attributes include the functions or elements that produce pleasure or positive psychological stimulation (Hassenzahl 2005). Although the CUE model and Hassenzahl’s approach serve as a solid foundation on which user experience can be studied with technology in general, they do not specifically address the experience of immersive technologies such asVR. Somewhat more specifically relevant, Jumisko-Pyykko (2011) has extensively studied quality of user experience in the case of mobile television, taking into account the content and media as part of the system characteristics, in addition to the characteristics of the user and the context contributing to the experience. Jumisko-Pyykkd’s work is closest to ours in terms of theoretical framing of user experience. Our aim here is to add to the knowledge of what the components of user experience are in immersive cultural journalism in the case of 360-degree videos.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >