Towards Sneaking as a Playful Input Modality for Virtual Environments

Sebastian Cmentowski, Andrey Krekhov, André Zenner, Daniel Kucharski, Jens Krüger

Using virtual reality setups, users can fade out of their surroundings and dive fully into a thrilling and appealing virtual environment. The success of such immersive experiences depends heavily on natural and engaging interactions with the virtual world. As developers tend to focus on intuitive hand controls, other aspects of the broad range of full-body capabilities are easily left vacant. One repeatedly overlooked input modality is the user's gait. Even though users may walk physically to explore the environment, it usually does not matter how they move. However, gait-based interactions, using the variety of information contained in human gait, could offer interesting benefits for immersive experiences. For instance, stealth VR-games could profit from this additional range of interaction fidelity in the form of a sneaking-based input modality. In our work, we explore the potential of sneaking as a playful input modality for virtual environments. Therefore, we discuss possible sneaking-based gameplay mechanisms and develop three technical approaches, including precise foot-tracking and two abstraction levels. Our evaluation reveals the potential of sneaking-based interactions in IVEs, offering unique challenges and thrilling gameplay. For these interactions, precise tracking of individual footsteps is unnecessary, as a more abstract approach focusing on the players' intention offers the same experience while providing better comprehensible feedback. Based on these findings, we discuss the broader potential and individual strengths of our gait-centered interactions.

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