Does Computer Game Experience Influence Visual Scenario Assessment of Urban Recreational Paths?: A Case Study Using 3-D Computer Animation

Does Computer Game Experience Influence Visual Scenario Assessment of Urban Recreational Paths?: A Case Study Using 3-D Computer Animation

Arne Arnberger (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Austria) and Thomas Reichhart (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-929-3.ch006


During the past decades, computer visualizations have been frequently used in urban e-Planning and research. The question arises of whether the degree of experience with the computer during leisure time can have an influence on the assessment of computer-visualized outdoor environment scenarios using visualizations comparable to computer games. We used a computer-animated choice model to investigate the influence of computer game experience on respondents’ preferences for an urban recreational trail. Static and animated representations of use scenarios were produced with 3-D computer animation techniques. Three social factors were investigated: number of trail users, user composition, and direction of movement: The scenarios were presented to respondents (N = 149), segmented into groups with different computer game experience. The results indicate that the individual experience with computer gaming and the presentation mode influences the evaluation of trail scenarios. Animated trail scenarios seem to be more useful than static ones.
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Research on preferences for urban planning issues, such as the design of public green spaces, has become an important scientific field driven by the rapid changes in urban and social structures of recent decades. At the same time, the systems of governance for planning and managing urban public space have changed, with a shift towards governance at the local and regional level (Silva & Syrett, 2006) and increased public participation. Several tools for participatory planning have been developed. The newest approaches use 3-D computer graphics or 3-D computer animations for presenting urban and rural developments and recreational scenarios (Karjalainen & Tyrväinen, 2002; Lange, 2001; Reichhart, Arnberger, & Muhar, 2007; Rohrmann & Bishop, 2002; Vallerie, Park, Hallo, Stanfield, & Manning, 2006). In particular, the capability of these methodologies to assess the acceptance of hypothetical and future scenarios is of great value for urban planners. Therefore, computer simulated environments are now widely used in environmental planning (Lange, 2005; Chen, Bishop, & Hamid, 2002).

Nowadays, Western urban societies are often familiar with computer generated graphics. This familiarity can be gained by work with the computer and/or video games. For example, 76% of Austrian households have at least one computer (Statistik Austria, 2008), and a high share of the population play computer games more or less regularly. Only 24% of the 11-18 year olds do not play computer games (Großegger & Zentner, 2008). The question of whether this familiarity with computer generated graphics can have an impact on the individual assessment of virtual environments that are increasingly used in e-Planning of urban environments arises. This topic is receiving added attention because research on video games has found that there are interconnections between real and virtual environments (Fischer, Kubitzki, Guter, & Frey, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Semi-Virtual Environments: These environments combine computer-generated elements, for example 3D animated trail users, with a photo of a real trail setting.

3-D Computer Animation: Trail users’ motion behaviour, i.e. walking, bicycling, is animated using 3-D computer animation.

Trail Scenario: A trail scenario consists of a specific combination of three social attributes.

Computer Game: A computer or video game is a 3D electronic game that involves interaction with game players.

Photomontages: Images which has been, mostly digitally, manipulated to presented variations in, for example, trail conditions, i.e. few trail users, or many trail users, without changing other trail environment settings.

Social Trail Preference: Preference of respondents for trail conditions which are characterized by social stimuli such as trail user numbers, user activities.

Shared-Use Recreational Trail: The trail is used by several user groups such as pedestrians and bicyclists for recreational purposes.

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