New paper on VR in COVID-19 pandemic

We have published a new paper: Rzeszewski M. Evans. L: Virtual place during quarantine – a curious case of VRChat

Abstract below and You can access full text here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349155537_Virtual_place_during_quarantine_-_a_curious_case_of_VRChat

Abstract: During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic many governments imposed forced lockdowns and implemented social distancing measures. At the same time there was also a large increase in gaming sales, which was particularly pronounced in the Virtual Reality (VR) sector of the market. We hypothesize that this is no coincidence since VR immersion and the capability of inducing embodiment and a feeling of presence can mitigate the loss of contact with outside world. VR has social and spatial potential to provide space and place for human interactions in time when physical contracts are restricted. To investigate this, we analyse reviews of VRChat (a social VR game) posted on the Steam platform, both before and during the pandemic. Among several themes that were identified, we found indications that spatiality plays an important role in the players’ experience. Users describe virtual worlds of the game using emotional language that suggest bonding and presence of place attachment. In the reviews made during the pandemic there is a strong theme of safety associated with virtual places of VRChat – a replacement of physical space that is no longer accessible or is perceived as unsafe. At least for some users, VRChat has provided a sympathetic and comfortable environment during the pandemic to act as a surrogate for social interaction during social distancing and isolation. Future interviews with users are needed to extend and validate this preliminary research.

Looking for VRChat users / Szukamy użytkowników VRChat

We are currently looking for VRChat users that are willing to give us short interviews (30-40 min). We are interested in both seasoned VRChat veterans and people that are fairly new to the game. Online ‘Face to face’ or ‘avatar to avatar’ interviews will be anonymous and related only to VRChat experience. If you want to share with us your thoughts on VR social games and VR in general please contact us! As a a reward for your time you will receive Steam gift card (150 PLN or equivalent in your currency).

Poszukujemy graczy i graczek VRChat chcących opowiedzieć nam o swoich przygodach w VR podczas krótkiego wywiadu (30-40 min). Interesują nas zarówno doświadczeni weterani VRChat, jak i osoby o krótkim doświadczeniu. Wywiady online „twarzą w twarz” lub „awatara z awatarem” będą anonimowe i związane tylko z doświadczeniem VRChat. Jeśli chcesz podzielić się z nami swoimi przemyśleniami na temat gier społecznościowych VR i ogólnie VR, skontaktuj się z nami! W nagrodę za poświęcony czas otrzymasz kartę podarunkową Steam (150 zł lub równowartość w Twojej walucie).

If you are interested write to: augmentedcityproject@gmail.com

Jeśli jesteś zainteresowana/zainteresowany napisz do nas: augmentedcityproject@gmail.com

Survey on XR technology

We are starting a survey,  in which we are asking questions on issues related to XR technology, their use, or potential future use in urban environments. Examples of XR technologies include augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies.

If you have any experience with XR or if you are just curious – help us and take our survey!

This survey is anonymous and you will not be asked to disclose any personal information unless you want to participate in our raffle for participants in which case we will need your email for the purpose of the winners. If you do this you will a chance of winning Steam gift card (40 PLN or equivalent in your currency). We will give out 1 gift card per 10 participants. You can read more about the survey here.

The survey can be found under the following link: https://forms.gle/DQn4iNZPG8j1C7Px8

XR survey

Poszukiwana pomoc – help wanted

We’ve received additional funding for COVID-19 related research and we are looking for students from UAM Poznań that want to take active part in our study. Since we are aiming for a specific group the rest of this post is in Polish (but if you are from abroad and residing in Poznan you can still contact us for this!)

Poszukujemy studentki lub studenta UAM z Poznania chcącego wziąć udział w naszym dodatkowym projekcie, związanym z Wirtualną Rzeczywistością (VR) i COVID-19. Chcemy zbadać potencjał mediów społecznościowych jako bezpiecznej przestrzeni społecznej – na przykładzie VRChat. Nie jest wymagana wcześniejsza znajomość VR.

Co zapewniamy:

  • Dostęp do sprzętu VR (Oculus Quest)
  • Uczestnictwo w projekcie naukowym na partnerskich zasadach – z możliwością współautorstwa publikacji i wpływem na kształt badań
  • Nauka warsztatu naukowego oraz technologii VT
  • Avatar wykonany na zamówienie
  • Możliwość korzystania z oprogramowania i sprzętu również dla własnych celów (w ograniczonym zakresie)

Czego oczekujemy:

  • Umiejętności związanych z mediami społecznościowymi – nawiązywanie nowych kontaktów, znajomość żargonu etc.
  • Znajomości języka angielskiego
  • Otwartości na nowe technologie
  • Ciekawości świata i chęci pracy przy projekcie naukowym

Zadaniem osoby, która podejmie się współpracy z nami będzie dość intensywne granie w VRChat wraz z zapisywaniem swoich spostrzeżeń (auto-etnografia) oraz nawiązywanie kontaktów z innymi graczami i zapraszanie ich na wywiady lub też prowadzenie wywiadów (kwestionariuszy).

Kontakt z nami: augmentedcityproject@gmail.com lub mrz@amu.edu.pl

Zapraszamy!

Mateusz – a new project member

We are happy to introduce Matesz Orylski – a new member of our team. Mateusz has been already cooperating with us for a couple of weeks but since he recently got funding from Adam Mickiewicz University (congratulations!) for his Master project this is as good opportunity as any.

Matesz has an engineering degree in Geoinformation- for his thesis he created a navigation app for Pokemon Go players that used hybrid reality approach and delivered a useful service for players. His current interests – that intersect with this project are focused on WebXR technology and its uses in spatial planning. He already created some preliminary web tools using OSM data and Three JS (see screenshot below). Funding he received will be used for creating, testing and implementing prototype of web application that can be used in spatial planning.

We are looking forward to collaborating with Matusz – welcome aboard!

Call for papers – Digital geographies in the time of pandemic

DEADLINE FOR INITIAL DECLARATIONS EXTENDED TILL 24th MAY

Call for papers for Regional Development And Regional Policy (http://rr.home.amu.edu.pl/index_en.php) – 3rd quarter of 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is an undeniable tragedy for many people and a global drama taking place on many levels and on many geographical scales. For the academic world, it is also a period of surprising changes and challenges – in the areas of privacy, mobility, teaching and research. The daily negotiations of new spatial conditions of life is a struggle that absorbs large amounts of time and effort for many of us. At the same time however, I see in this situation the opportunity to look at it as a time of reflection and new possibilities of observing socio-spatial phenomena – also those previously unknown or hidden and now exposed or created by and through digital technologies. This call for papers aims to explore this possibility and invite you to think critically about one of the phenomena visibibly highlighted by social distance procedures – the ubiquity of digital platforms and technologies and their digital geographies.

Digital technologies entered the everyday world on an unprecedented scale during the pandemic, becoming an integral part of the daily life of many people – often in an forceful and uninvited manner. We now experience directly what Bernard Stiegler calls a pharmakon – a technology that is both a remedy for the current situation and a poison that brings new social challenges. But it can be seen as a unique opportunity to reflect on the way digital technologies shape, represent, create and mediate spaces and places. It is also an opportunity to take a new look at the digital geography of mobility and spatial behavior, work and leisure, countries and regions, social relations and class divisions, gender and race – and more. Finally, this could be a time to rethink the place of digital geography in social sciences – not in the context of the new subdiscipline, but in the spirit of the necessary presence of digital research problems in a broadly understood spatially oriented research (Ash et al., 2018).

Therefore I invite you all to send texts to a special issue of our journal. The range of themes include, but is not limited to:

  • space and place in a digitally mediated world
  • digital placemaking
  • locational data and society control mechanisms
  • digital economics and digital work in the world of isolation
  • issues of location privacy and freedom of movement
  • ethics of conducting digital research during social distancing
  • maps – cartographic representations of the global crisis
  • digital division and exclusion
  • smart cities – a technological mitigation of the pandemic

Due to the special nature of this issue, please send first a short pitch (just a short description) about your proposed paper to mrz@amu.edu.pl. After making sure it will fit the overall theme I will ask you to send the full text. I hope that this slightly different than usual form will allow us to create a coherent and intellectually stimulating collection of texts.

Deadlines and schedule:
by 24th May – sending initial declarations and acceptance
by 15th August – full texts
by 15th September – reviews
by 30th September– corrected texts

More about the journal: http://rr.home.amu.edu.pl/index_en.php

Editorial info:

  1. guidel lines for authors: http://rr.home.amu.edu.pl/wytyczneautor_en.php
  2. editorial questions should be directed to the Editorial Secretar – mgr Rafal Lemański rafale@amu.edu.pl
  3. we can accept texts in English and also in Polish!

Contact info:
Please send all questions and comments, as well as the initial declarations to my email address::mrz@amu.edu.pl

Michal Rzeszewski
Critical Geography Laboratory
Digital Geography and Geographic Information Systems Laboratory
Faculty of Human Geography and Planning , Adam Mickiewicz University

AR/VR equipment arrived

A first batch of equipment for our AR/VR lab has arrived. Headsets and smartphones will be used in field experiments we’ve planned for the future. In the meantime we have some software development to do 🙂

Two sets of Oculus Quest and 4 Google Pixels 3a – a small lab beginings

A short article in Życie Uniwersyteckie

Cyfrowe oprogramowanie jest w mieście tak samo ważne, jak cegły i zaprawa”

A short note about our project was published in the current issue of Życie Uniwersyteckie. You can read the whole issue (in Polish) here.

Project website is now online

“Hell of a world we live in, huh? (…) But it could be worse, huh?”
“That’s right,” I said, “or even worse, it could be perfect.”
― William Gibson, Burning Chrome

Welcome to our small digital place dedicated to our research. You can learn here about the project, read a little bit about us, see the first results of our research and most importantly contact us if you want to know more, have some question or take part in our research!