Computing and Information Systems - Theses
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ItemSupporting the User Experience of Running with Mixed Reality StoriesKan, Aleksandr ( 2019)Mixed reality stories (MRS) are stories designed to create a mixed reality experience with particular activities, such as running. A wide commercial success of a mixed reality stories designed for running suggested that such a format could provide unique benefits compared to other kinds of mixed reality systems. Yet little is known about how the user experience of running with mixed reality stories can be supported. This thesis aims to address this problem. To reach this aim I conducted three empirical qualitative studies. Study 1 explores the experience of running with an existing commercially successful mixed reality story. In this study, 11 participants ran with the MRS for three weeks and reported on their experience via semi-structured open-ended interviews before and after the trial, along with keeping a running diary throughout the study. The study helped to evaluate which aspects are most significant for constructing the user experience of MRS, how runners balance different aspects on the go, the importance of participants’ attitudes towards running, and also indicated that MRS format is different from both conventional audiobooks and traditional mixed reality systems. Study 2 focuses on how creative writers address running when working on the stories. During this study, three writers created three distinct stories with different approaches to connecting the physical and virtual worlds. Semi-structured discussions with the writers, along with the analysis of the stories they created helped to understand the differences between the approaches they used, and how writers repurpose familiar story mechanics for addressing running. Finally, Study 3 examines how runners perceive mixed reality stories. In it, 36 participants completed 45 runs with the three MRS created in the previous study. Similarly to Study 1, their experience was captured via semi-structured open-ended interviews after their runs. The findings of the study introduced four stages of story perception and revealed how such perceptions depend on participants’ personal relationships with running. Moreover, Study 3 validated, clarified, connected and extended findings from the first two studies, thus bringing the thesis to closure. Overall, this thesis addresses the gap in our understanding in how the user experience of running with mixed reality stories can be supported by clarifying how MRS are different from both traditional stories and other mixed reality systems, and how they enhance running by providing welcome distractions and by changing the meaning of the running. It suggests how runners balance different aspects of a complex experience by voluntarily engaging when it suits them. Finally, it breaks down the three most significant aspects of the MRS experience—running, story and MRS elements—to provide more understanding of how they work, and suggests how these insights could be used in practice.