Research in the Metaverse; How will Virtual Reality impact and shape Qualitative Inquiry?

Abstract: As an emerging and disruptive technology, Virtual Reality (VR) is already shaping fundamental aspects of human existence - ranging from communication, relationships, social presence, embodied experiences, etc. Spatial networking and various social VR platforms are becoming mainstream due to affordable HMDs (head mounted displays). Popular VR worlds, such as Altspace and Recroom are becoming vibrant social spaces where human governed avatars (and AI) interact in fundamentally new ways through virtual bodies and virtual environments. Due to the immersive nature of VR, this technology creates presence by stimulating the human brain in ways that the person’s body in VR reacts to the virtual world and experiences as if it is real. The emotional, cognitive, psychological, and social interactions in virtual reality will not only change us, but it will potentially change our culture. For qualitative research and qualitative researchers, VR is a new domain and territory to explore and contend with. Immersive storytelling, gaming, social VR, and VR experiences/simulations broaden not only the possibilities of qualitative research, but I believe it will create new research methods and paradigms for qualitative inquiry. As a qualitative researcher and an early adopter of VR, I would like to start a conversation about virtual reality within the context of the qualitative research tradition. I will share how I use arts-based research, narrative inquiry, and autoethnography in the context of VR, and how I envision new opportunities for researchers entering the metaverse.

75-word Summary: Virtual Reality is a new frontier for qualitative researchers. Social VR, spatial networking, immersive gaming/storytelling, and virtual experiences, ranging from friendships to sex, are fundamentally shaping human existence and culture. In what ways the tools and methods of qualitative research can be used within the domain of VR? How to study phenomenon emerging and experienced in VR? This presentation aims to inspire an engaged and critical dialogue regarding qualitative inquiry in the context of VR.

Keywords: Virtual Reality, Metaverse, Social VR, Research in VR,

Individual Paper (or panel)

Research in the Metaverse; How will Vir…

Title
Literacy in Virtual Reality. Reflections on Immersive Gaming and Storytelling from a Literacy Perspective.

Abstract (69/75 words)
Virtual reality, as a medium for immersive experiences will continue to impact education and numerous aspects of human existence. It is vital for educators, learners, and scholars to actively engage with this new technology and to participate in the creation, development, and evaluation of VR use in classrooms and beyond. I explore the potentials of VR and how this technology may impact or change literacy education.

Keywords (5 words or less)
Virtual Reality
Gaming
Multimodal Literacy
Play
Immersive Learning

Proposal
Topic
This presentation explores Virtual Reality in the context of literacy education. As an emerging technology, VR continues to shape and impact our lives on various levels, including education. For this presentation I build on my experience of playing the virtual reality adventure game, Moss, developed by Polyarc. The gameplay of Moss provided a thought-provoking experience to reflect on literacy in VR because the player represents a reader who finds an old book. Playing this game, as a literacy scholar, also led to an ongoing investigation and wrestling with questions about literacy and how VR reality may change or impact literacy education.

Description/Purpose
The purpose of this presentation is to begin a dialogue about VR in the context of literacy education. As an early adapter of VR, I have explored close to 100 VR applications and experiences while reflecting on aspects of reading, writing, creating in the virtual world. As a mindful explorer of VR, I use autoethnography to create narratives of my experiences. For this presentation, I will use my narrative of playing Polyarc’s VR version of Moss to share my insights about literacy and the “reader’s” role and function within the game. My objective is to inspire VR users in academia to purposefully engage and evaluate VR experiences in order to shape the industry, especially content developers who are designing apps for educational use.

Innovation and Relevancy
I profoundly resonate with Jaron Lanier’s (2017) statement, that “VR is one of the scientific, philosophical, and technological frontiers of our era. It is a means for creating comprehensive illusions that you're in a different place, perhaps a fantastical, alien environment, perhaps with a body that is far from human. And yet it's also the farthest-reaching apparatus for researching what a human being is in the terms of cognition and perception” (p. 1). I believe, it is essential for literacy scholars, educators, and students to participate in the shaping of this new technology and to become literate in VR/AR and Mixed Reality. Content creation for VR is also an important domain we should consider pursuing as literacy educators. The two major platforms, Unity and Unreal Engine offer free resources and software for students and educators to develop VR experiences.

Participant Engagement
Participants will explore VR both as a tool and medium for Literacy. This presentation will also feature, the Oculus Quest (stand-alone VR headset with a built-in computer) and various apps/programs designed for Virtual Reality running on this platform. Participants will be invited to try out some of the VR applications designed for education and to engage in a though-provoking discussion about VR and literacy.

References
Lanier, J. (2017). The Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Virtual Reality. New York, NY: Picador.

Literacy In Virtual Reality

Title
<PICK UP BOOK> Gamifying Literacy through Text-Based Adventure Games

Abstract (69/75 words)
Text-based adventure games offer unique opportunities for stimulating critical reading/writing and problem-solving skills. This presentation advocates for the designing and making of text-based adventure games to strengthen multimodal literacy knowledge and skills.

Keywords (5 words or less)
Gaming and Play, Writing, Reading, Design-Thinking, Creativity

Proposal
Topic
Designing and developing text-based adventure games offer students various opportunities to creatively use their reading, writing, problem-solving and storytelling skills. Game design, especially the creation of text-based adventure games, opens up various levels of creative and literacy engagements as game makers are compelled to create functional products (playable adventures) that people want to engage with as well as providing gameplay that is fun, meaningful and rewarding.

Description/Purpose
The purpose of this presentation is to share the potential educational uses of text-based adventure games in the context of literacy education. Using the open-source, online platform Quest, I will demonstrate how text adventure games can be used as a.) creative assessment tools, b.) creative reading/writing tools, c.) and a powerful medium to promote creativity and critical thinking through the processes of game design. For example, as a tool for assessment, a curricular topic or required reading can be creatively transformed/adapted into a text-adventure game. Students can only progress through the game when they mastered the corresponding materials (stories, lecture notes, relevant resources). Creating text adventure games for assessment not only evaluates performance (as in a quiz) but it introduces an element of play. Also, a good text adventure game teaches players both directly and indirectly how to find the right or best answers/solutions, through trial and error or through repeated failures. Similarly, creating opportunities for students to design and develop text-based adventure games using assigned readings, curricular topics, stories, etc., may help them to transition from being a passive reader/writer into an active maker, re-creator. For example, I will introduce one of my text-adventure games, based on Henry Cole's wordless picture book, Unspoken, where players can experience numerous outcomes and experience the book from different perspectives.

Innovation and Relevancy
Although text-based adventure games are not as popular as they were in the 1970s, rediscovering and re-engaging with this unique medium and tool can transform and impact literacy practices. Text adventure games don't require a powerful GPU or graphics card; thus, players and game makers must use their imagination - a valuable skill that is often diminished when players are provided with ready-made images or immersive experiences. According to Alice Robinson (2008) the principles of videogame design are surprisingly similar to the principles of creating a successful curriculum, and I believe designing text-based adventure games opens up various levels of creative engagements related to reading, writing, storytelling, and problem-solving. Similarly, game design and game development fits into a maker-centered education model where students are invited to contribute and create tangible solutions or to demonstrate their learning or understanding by developing a product or service.

Participant Engagement
This presentation will offer a basic tutorial on how to create text-based adventure games. I will also share an example of a text adventure game from my children's literature classroom and showcase the text-adventure adaptation of a wordless picture book.

References
Robison, A. J. (2008). The Design is the Game: Writing Games, Teaching Writing. Computers and Composition, 25(3), 359–370

Pick Up Book
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