More than buttons on controllers: engaging social interactions in narrative VR games through social attitudes detection

Dobre, Georgiana Cristina; Gillies, Marco; Ranyard, David C; Harding, Russell and Pan, Xueni. 2022. 'More than buttons on controllers: engaging social interactions in narrative VR games through social attitudes detection'. In: ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA ’22). Faro, Portugal 6 - 9 September 2022. [Conference or Workshop Item]

IVA22Industry ID3523[CristinaDobre][MoreThanButtonsOnControllers].pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract or Description

People can understand how human interaction unfolds and can pinpoint social attitudes such as showing interest or social engagement with a conversational partner. However, summarising this with a set of rules is difficult, as our judgement is sometimes subtle and subconscious. Hence, it is challenging to program agents or non-player characters (NPCs) to react towards social signals appropriately, which is important for immersive narrative games in Virtual Reality (VR). We present a collaborative work between two game studios (Maze Theory and Dream Reality Interactive) and academia to develop an immersive machine learning (ML) pipeline for detecting social engagement. Here we introduce the motivation and the methodology of the immersive ML pipeline, then we cover the motivation for the industry-academia collaboration, how it progressed, the implications of joined work on the industry and reflective insights on the collaboration. Overall, we highlight the industry-academia collaborative work on an immersive ML pipeline for detecting social engagement. We demonstrate how creatives could use ML and VR to expand their ability to design more engaging commercial games.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

The project was supported by Innovate UK grant TS/S02221X/1 and partly supported by grant EP/L015846/1 for the Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (www.iggi. from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). For the purpose of open access, the author(s) has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.

Data Access Statement: All data supporting this study are provided as supplementary information accompanying [Dobre et al. 2022] at DOI: 10.1007/s10055-022-00644-4.


Artificial Intelligence, Expressive Body Language, Gaming, Human Computer Interaction, Virtual Agents, Virtual Reality

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23 July 2022Accepted
6 September 2022Published

Event Location:

Faro, Portugal

Date range:

6 - 9 September 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Sep 2022 15:43

Last Modified:

13 Sep 2022 15:43


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