Metaverse as a promise of a bright future?
– social interactions in a world of isolation

March 12-13, 2022, online workshop

The Laboratory of Media Studies UW is proud to host the IEEE VR 2022 workshop:  Metaverse as a promise of a bright future? – social interactions in a world of isolation, from March 12-13, 2022. The Call for Submissions will start in December 2021. Submissions will be due on January 12, 2022; notifications will be sent out on January 18, 2022. To stay up to date about the conference and receive notifications about deadlines and announcements, you can sign up to our e-mail distribution list or follow the official Facebook account.

SIWI workshop is a part of:

About the workshop

The Metaverse is before us. Extended Reality, which has so far been on the periphery of life, has a chance of becoming an element of everyday life. The arrival of such a world has been accelerated, on the one hand, by technological development and the readiness of IT corporations to invest in VR/XR technology, and on the other hand, by a pandemic that prompted us to look for alternative ways to exist in isolation.

This situation forces us to face completely new challenges. We must find ways to define ourselves in the virtual world in various dimensions, including establishing social relationships or creating our own identity. We invite you to our online workshop – a space for reflection on issues of social functioning in the world of the Metaverse. The event has been designed to allow participants to interact in three autonomous forms: lectures combined with Q&A sessions, an experiment involving participant observation in the VR environment, and thematic discussion sessions.

We plan to conduct the meeting as a half-day workshop. We will start with a panel featuring participants’ presentations. Then, participants will be invited to the VR Chat application prepared by LBM UW to participate in a specially designed game called “Prohibition.” Participation in this game will involve experiencing risk, competition and dynamic social relations, and give players a chance to reflect on their own identity in the virtual space. Some will participate in the game, while others observe and analyze it using a previously prepared observation card. The day will end with a summary discussion. We will examine individual and group functioning in the virtual world based on the experience of the game and take up methodological themes regarding research in this environment.  We will share not only our thoughts from the workshops but also our experiences related to VR/XR research.

The presentations and discussion topics will concern various aspects of social interactions in XR/VR. We are interested in whether and how designing virtual worlds can condition human behaviour. What is communication like in XR/VR, what tools can enrich it and what can limit it? What is the specificity of intercultural interactions? How do players create an identity in XR/VR? How do they perceive themselves? What are their motivations?

We also want to analyze VR/XR as a way of breaking down social isolation. What impact can interaction in VR/XR have on people who struggle with exclusion and loneliness? Virtual escapism as a path to a more attractive reality has become an important issue during the pandemic, but it should not be forgotten that, regardless of the current situation, VR/XR opportunities provide a unique opportunity for people with disabilities.

Another thread is the relations between technology and humans as social animals. What solutions are missing to make the user experience entirely satisfactory? Does VR/XR technology change us by creating cyborgs? Does it take away our humanity or support us in our development as social creatures?

We invite you to reflect and share your experiences!

Topics

Our workshop is focused on the following areas:

Establishing social relationships in XR/VR environments

Creating the identity in XR/VR environments

Intercultural communication in XR/VR

Influence of XR/VR design on human behavior

Social interactions in XR/VR

VR/XR in the context of social motivation

VR/XR as a way to overcome social isolation

VR/XR as potential inclusion space for people with disabilities

Call for contributions

We invite you to submit position papers, preliminary research results, case studies or novel concepts (up to a maximum of 6 pages without references) related to XR/VR technology and humans as social animals:

  • Establishing social relationships in XR/VR environments
  • Creating an identity in XR/VR environments
  • Intercultural communication in XR/VR environments
  • Influence of XR/VR design on human behaviour
  • VR/XR in the context of social motivation
  • Social interactions in XR/VR
  • VR/XR as a way to overcome social isolation
  • VR/XR as a potential inclusion space for people with disabilities

All papers will be subject to a double-blind peer review process.

All IEEE VR Conference Paper submissions must be prepared in IEEE Computer Society VGTC format (https://tc.computer.org/vgtc/publications/conference/) and submitted in PDF format. All paper submissions must be in English.

Proceedings will be submitted for inclusion in the IEEE Digital Library.

Conference Presentation

All accepted papers must be orally presented at the conference. Authors of accepted papers will be expected to give a 8-minute presentation at the workshop.

A list of important dates

  • Submission deadline: January 12, 2022 extended deadline: January 16, 2022
  • Notification deadline: January 18, 2022 extended deadline: January 19, 2022
  • Camera-ready deadline: January 25, 2022 extended deadline: January 28, 2022
  • Workshop: March 12/13, 2022 (exact date to be announced)

To be announced:

  • The information about the workshop cost will be disclosed soon
How to make a submission?

Papers must be submitted via the PCS system. Once logged in, in the submissions tab, select VR in the Society dropdown list, then IEEE VR 2022 in the next dropdown, and then the IEEE VR 2022 Workshop: Metaverse as a promise of a bright future? in the track dropdown. Finally, press the Go button to create a new submission entry.

VR Chat Experience

The workshops will include the VR experience embedded in the VR Chat environment.

VR Chat is a virtual universe, a kind of meta-space created by and for a community full of passion, commitment and enthusiasm for exploring new communication techniques. The distinguishing feature of VR Chat is primarily the use of full avatars.

We want to use the potential of this platform and move to the virtual world with our own bodies – through a three-dimensional scan. The telepresence of the workshop participant’s body seems to be very significant here[1]. The use of one’s own avatar, borrowed from the real world, gives the participant greater confidence, trust, and the ability to work with others[2]. In order to augment the immersion of experiences, the actual location will also be proposed. The Laboratory of Media Studies (University of Warsaw) will be transferred to the virtual world. Thanks to these two treatments, the presented experience will be powerful and workshop participants will be able to experience complete immersion in the virtual world.

Why is it important? This will allow for natural attitudes and reactions during the experience and, therefore, while playing ‘Prohibition’ – the game that will be used during the workshop. The game itself is designed in such a way as to build an atmosphere of competition, to feel the risk of decisions made, and most importantly, to function in the realities of changing social relations (between players). Building a real environment and a full mapping of (some) players will allow the simulation effect to be eliminated and thus more accurately show how important mutual relations and the feeling of “being” part of the game are.

During the experiment, it will be possible to assume two roles: participant and observer. Both of these roles are equally important – participants will be directly involved in the entertainment, but focusing attention on the competition with individual players will make them less focused on observing mutual relations. The game will be played according to the assumed scenario. Observers, on the other hand, will be responsible for documenting the course of the game, relations between participants and reactions to them. This process will be supported by the observation cards provided for participants (in order to standardize the observation process).

One of the elements of the workshop will be a discussion on the importance of the surrounding artificial world for the quality and durability of experiences of the participants.

[1] Minna Pakanen, Paula Alavesa, Niels van Berkel, Timo Koskela, Timo Ojala,

“Nice to see you virtually”: Thoughtful design and evaluation of virtual avatar of the other user in AR and VR-based telexistence systems, Entertainment Computing, Volume 40, 2022, 100457, ISSN 1875-9521, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.entcom.2021.100457. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1875952121000549)

[2] Pan Y, Steed A (2017) The impact of self-avatars on trust and collaboration in shared virtual environments. PLoS ONE 12(12): e0189078. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189078

Workshop program

To be announced.

Organizing committee

prof. UW Tomasz Gackowski
prof. UW Tomasz Gackowski

University of Warsaw, Poland

dr Karolina Brylska
dr Karolina Brylska

University of Warsaw, Poland

dr hab. Anna Mierzecka
dr hab. Anna Mierzecka

University of Warsaw, Poland

Marcin Łączyński
Marcin Łączyński

University of Warsaw, Poland

Adam Balcerzak
Adam Balcerzak

University of Warsaw, Poland

Marlena Sztyber
Marlena Sztyber

University of Warsaw, Poland

Łukasz Bis
Łukasz Bis

University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszów, Poland

Grzegorz Kowalczyk
Grzegorz Kowalczyk

University of Warsaw, Poland

Scientific committee

  • Dr Lynn Silipigni Connaway (OCLC Research, USA)
  • Sonia Fizek (Technische Hochschule Koeln Cologne Game Lab, Germany)
  • Jamie Johnston (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)
  • Veli-Matti Karhulahti (University of Jyvaskyla / University of Turku, Finland)
  • Tomas Krilavičius (Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania)
  • Dr Jan Lacko (Pan-European University, Slovakia)
  • Krystyna Matusiak (University of Denver, USA)
  • Bhuva Narayan (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
  • Aleksandra Przegalińska (Kozminski University, Poland)
  • Wayne Wanta (University of Florida, USA)
  • Adriaan van der Weel (Leiden University, Netherlands)
  • Magdalena E. Wojcieszak (University of California Davis, University of Amsterdam)

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