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How 3D Virtual Humans Built by Adolescents with ASD Affect Their 3D Interactions

Chao Mei, Lee Mason and John Quarles

The 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2015)
Lisbon, Portugal, October 26-28, 2015


Training games have many potential benefits for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) intervention, such as increasing motivation and improving the abilities of performing daily living activities, due to their ability to simulate real world scenarios. A more motivating game may stimulate users to play the game more, and it may also result in users performing better in the game. Incorporating users' interests into the game could be a good way to build a motivating game, especially for users with ASD. Existing games minimally take into consideration the fact that there is a wide variety of interests in the ASD population and each individual's interests are often very specific and restricted. This is an important consideration because hypothetically persons with ASD may be more focused in training and therapy if their interests are included. The wide variety of individuals on the ASD spectrum makes it difficult to include personalized content in games.

We propose a Customizable Virtual Human (CVH) which enables users with ASD to easily customize a virtual human and then interact with the CVH in a 3D interaction task. Previous work has shown that users with ASD may have less efficient hand-eye coordination in performing 3D interaction tasks than users without ASD. We developed a hand-eye coordination training game - Imagination Soccer - and presented a user study on adolescents with high functioning ASD to investigate the effects of CVHs. We compare the differences of participants' 3D interaction performances, game performances and user experiences (i.e. presence, involvement, and flow) under CVH and Non-customizable Virtual Human (NCVH) conditions. As expected, the results indicated that for users with ASD, CVHs could effectively motivate them to play the game more, and offer a better user experience. Surprisingly, results also showed that the CVHs improved performance in the hand-eye-coordination task – users had higher success rate and blocked more soccer balls with the CVH than with a non-customizable virtual human.

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