This research was originally conducted for my Master’s Thesis at Polytechnic University of Milan and KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden), with the support of the company Xplor XR.

I presented this work at CYPSY26 (26th Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference) in Paris. I also condensed the findings into a paper that was then chosen for publication in the Annual Review of Cybertherapy and Telemedicine.

Here is the abstract of my research:

Flow state is a state of intense focus and engagement, which is fulfilling for people experiencing it and therefore sought-after by creators of virtual games and experiences. As theorized by Csíkszentmihályi, flow can be subdivided into nine components: merging of actions and awareness, clear goals, concentration on the task at hand, unambiguous feedback, challenge-skill balance, transformation of time, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, and autotelic experience.
Virtual Reality (VR) is known to be one of the most immersive technologies available today. As such, it has great potential to foster flow state in its users.
This work tries to determine which design characteristics favor flow the most in VR, with respect to providing guidance to the user. In particular, this research examines whether text hints or glowing cues are more effective to foster feelings of flow in a VR escape room. The intensity of flow state has been evaluated through the Activity Flow State Scale (AFSS) designed by Payne et al., and qualitative data has also been gathered, from direct observation and user comments.
AFSS score, duration of the VR experience, and duration estimated by the participants, have been compared between the version of the VR escape room which presents hints as text prompts and the one in which relevant objects glow. This data has then been connected to findings resulting from the thematic analysis of direct observation and user comments. The results did not provide a clear indication that either of the hint versions distinctly produced more flow, but rather that they both acted in different ways on separate flow components. In particular, the component “clear goals” had a higher average score for the version of the escape room with text hints. The qualitative data also gave rise to several insights into the complexities of designing Virtual Reality experiences to foster flow.

Want to read more about this work?

For an effective and to the point read, this is the 6 page scientific paper. Or, feel free to check out my (100-page) Master Thesis as discussed at Polytechnic University of Milan here.

Or you can always ask me about it by email. I’m happy to talk about it!