Methods of Analyzing Your VR Experience

I believe every creation has a potential for offering learning experiences. Which could be unfold primarily by its creators, subsequently their community and finally all the other homo sapiens. Especially when we talk about VR as the most phenomenal subset of technology. The intense load of cognition/emotion that is triggered in the user’s body and mind needs to be analyzed. In terms of analyzing VR contents and its effects on users, I can suggest these two methods:

a) Capturing User’s Biometrics & Behavioral Data

Some startups are working on making tools to analyze user’s biometric data and report a log to analyze them. It’s still too early for developers to access these tools but it will eventually become a routine part of developers’ workflow in benchmarking their experience. (i.e, Ghostline,CognitiveVR)

Example of Gaze Heatmap generated by Retinad

But now that we don’t have access to these SDKs and analytic tools, we can still manage to analyze by observing the user. Just by attending to someone else’s experience you can grasp a general overview about their:

  • Attention (direction of their gaze)
  • Emotion (facial expressions, body & verbal reactions)
  • Cognition (users might seek guidance to figure out interactions or may blindly use controllers to find the right button)
  • Physical State (user’s fatigue)

These are the outcomes that you can collect just by watching users’ behavior in VR. It can help you estimate a curve for the parameters mentioned above from beginning to the end of the experience. (i.e. , cognitive load on user)

b) Phenomenological Interviews

In phenomenological human science the interview first of all serves the very specific purpose of exploring and gathering experiential narrative material, stories or anecdotes, that may serve as a resource for developing a richer and deeper understanding of a human phenomenon.

In an experience interview, the interviewee answers questions about his or her actions in a past situation. Interviews can reveal a different aspect of user experience that you might not be able to grasp by just observing their behavior. It tells you the subjective narrative of the user. We usually remember and memorize our past experiences through the gestalts that we had in those past events. These gestalts are a very important piece in VR design. What made “this moment” in my experience more memorable? You won’t be able to accurately perceive the details of the gestalts that the user experiences in “that moment” but you can find out when those moments are.

It’s a good practice to always ask questions from the user after their experience. It can be more useful if you get disciplined in this approach. By asking more specific and subjective questions you can address your dilemmas and spot the areas that need improvements.

The driven conclusions from both methods mentioned above is a precious ingredient for improving your current work, spotting your mistakes and avoiding them next time.

Suggestions :

To Creators — It’s true that these information are mostly useful to yourselves but sharing them, even a brief report, can offer a great deal of contribution to the VR community. More importantly, the far reaching goal of these analytics resources can shed light on a richer and deeper understanding of a human phenomenon.

To Festival Organizers — Preparing a method to collect the attendants’ feedback can be of great help to the creators because they won’t always be present to observe users and interview them. In my experience, asking for volunteers assistance who run installations can be of immense help in this approach.

edited by Niloufar Goudarzi