Concepts behind Serious Games and Computer-Based Trainings in Health Care: Immersion, Presence, Flow

Concepts behind Serious Games and Computer-Based Trainings in Health Care: Immersion, Presence, Flow

Jana Birkenbusch (Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany) and Oliver Christ (Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3673-6.ch001
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In the area of health care, dynamic changes and improvements of computer-based methods of intervention are more and more observable. This tendency is, amongst other reasons, caused by the implementation of theoretical constructs and psychological phenomena, such as flow, immersion, and presence, because they are able to explain processes and effects of medical interventions and thereby provide helpful hints to the enhancement of rehabilitation technology. This chapter provides an overview of the definitions of constructs related to computer-based technology, how these constructs are related to each other, and how they can be measured. Furthermore, practical aspects of improvement, possible areas of application, and potential benefits of implementing these constructs are discussed.
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Presence, Immersion, And Flow

The term presence developed from telepresence (Minsky, 1980), which described teleoperators’ sense of being physically present at a remote location even if only interacting with the system’s human interface. Steuer (1992) redefined presence as “closely related to the phenomenon of distal attribution or externalization, which refers to the referencing of our perceptions to an external space beyond the limits of the sensory organs themselves.” He argues that whenever “perception is mediated by a communication technology, one is forced to perceive two separate environments simultaneously”, so that one experiences presence in the natural environment and telepresence in the computer-mediated environment.

Nowadays, the terms presence and telepresence are used synonymously, because a cross environment comparison of everyday life and Virtual Environment (VE) seems to be invalid (Usoh, Catena, Arman, & Slater, 2000). Slater (2004) argues that people have varying degrees of attention in different real situations, but do not doubt their presence in these situations. So presence is defined as “the subjective experience of being in one place or environment, even when one is physically situated in another” (Witmer & Singer, 1998). When talking about presence, other related terms like immersion, flow, or involvement are often mentioned. These constructs are related to presence, but do not describe the same phenomenon, so they have to be distinguished in their definitions.

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