Beyond Being There: A Grounded Investigation of the Value of Virtual Worlds for Remote Family Interaction

Lizzy Bleumers, An Jacobs


In our interdisciplinary project, HI-Masquerade, we investigated the potential of virtual worlds for remote interaction between family members of different generations. In this paper, we report on this study. Our methodological approach consisted of two components. We presented storyboards, visualizing use scenarios, to family members. In addition, we let these family members use a virtual world application at home. By doing so, we triggered both assumption- and experience-based reflection on the sense of using virtual worlds for family interaction. Our findings show that while family members have concerns about virtual worlds (e.g., possible replacement of real life activities), they also see opportunities (e.g., learning together). Family members felt that the virtual world that they had used was not a suitable platform for remote family interaction. Nevertheless, they appreciated the increased offline interaction that it generated because it helped to bridge the children’s and adults' worlds.


storyboards, Proxy Technology Assessment, virtual worlds, family, remote communication, mediated interaction

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