Story experience in a virtual San storytelling environment : a cultural heritage application for children and young adults

Ladeira, Ilda (2005)

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 166-170).


This dissertation explores virtual storytelling for conveying cultural stories effectively. We set out to investigate: (1) the strengths and/or weaknesses of VR as a storytelling medium; (2) the use of a culturally familiar introductory VB to preface a VB presenting traditional storytelling; (3) the relationship between presence and story experience. We conducted two studies to pursue these aims. Our aims were stated in terms of effective story experience, in the realm of cultural heritage. This was conceptualised as a story experience where story comprehension, interest in the story's cultural context and story enjoyment were achieved, and where boredom and confusion in the story were low. This conceptualisation was empirically validated by our studies. Three storytelling scenarios were created to tell a traditional San story: text (T); a storytelling VB with no introductory VB (VR+NI); a storytelling VB with a hip-hop themed introductory VB (VR+I). These scenarios comprised our experimental conditions. Questionnaires, measuring interest in hip-hop and the story experience aspects identified above, were developed and psychometrically validated. Study 1 was conducted with a sample of 44 high-schoolleamers and Study 2 with 98 university students. Both studies used a between-subjects design. Study 2 was a refined version of Study 1, improving Study 1's questionnaires for use in Study 2 and considering two additional variables: attention to the story and perceived strangeness of the story. For our first aim, story experience in the text and VR storytelling scenarios were compared. In Study 1 and 2, comprehension was significantly higher in the T condition than in the two VR conditions combined and attention was higher in Study 2's T condition. Therefore, we conclude that text is better for achieving story comprehension. In Study 1, interest and enjoyment were significantly higher in the VR condition, while boredom was higher in the T condition. But, no significant differences between text and VR were noted for these variables in Study 2. Comparisons of the T and VR conditions across Study 1 and 2 showed a particularly poor story experience in Study 1's T group; we speculate that this was due to differences in Study 1 and 2's samples and procedures. Barring this, there were no interest, enjoyment or boredom differences between T and VR across Study 1 and 2. Thus, we conclude, conservatively, that text and VR are equally good in terms of interest enjoyment and boredom. Confusion was higher in Study 1's T condition, but this result was counter-intuitive since this condition had also shown higher comprehension. In contrast, Study 2's VR condition showed significantly higher confusion and lower strangeness. We conclude that Study 1's participants had reported strangeness rather than confusion and, while virtual storytelling resulted in more confusion, it also resulted in less perceived strangeness of the story. Presence and story experience in the VR+NI and VR+I storytelling scenarios were compared for our second aim. The introductory VB only had an effect for participants who showed a pre-existing interest in hip-hop. In Study 1's VR+I condition, hip-hop interest was a significant predictor of enjoyment. In Study 2's VR+I condition, those who identified hip-hop as a favourite music genre showed significantly higher presence than those who identified other genres as a favourite. This suggests that strongly themed introductory VB's do not benefit virtual storytelling, and that content familiarity and preference interact with VB content to influence virtual experiences. Regarding our third aim; we did not find strong evidence of a relationship between presence and story experience since presence only correlated significantly with interest in Study 1.