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Playful User-Generated Treatment: Expert Perspectives on Opportunities and Design Challenges

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jan SmeddinckORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a conference proceedings (inc. abstract) that has been published in its final definitive form by Association for Computing Machinery, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) is a promising approach in treating phobias such as fear of heights (acrophobia). VRET provides an effective, cost-efficient, scalable and individually adaptable alternative to traditional exposure therapy. To further foster the potential of VRET, a novel concept called Playful User-generated Treatment (PUT) was derived from expert interviews and literature review. In this paper, we provide additional insights regarding the applicability of PUT in real therapy scenarios. For that purpose, practicing psychotherapists (n=13) participated in an online survey and shared their assessments regarding PUT. By conducting qualitative content analysis (inductive category formation), we identified opportunities and challenges that should be considered for the design of playful VRET systems. Opportunities were seen for preparatory habituation, increased control and self-efficacy, improved interaction, economic usage and a realistic display of anxiety-inducing environments. Challenges included lack of direct communication and realism as well as pseudo-habituation to virtual environments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Volkmar G, Alexandrovsky D, Smeddinck JD, Herrlich M, Malaka R

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: CHI Play

Year of Conference: 2020

Pages: 398–402

Online publication date: 04/11/2020

Acceptance date: 02/11/2020

Date deposited: 18/02/2021

Publisher: Association for Computing Machinery


DOI: 10.1145/3383668.3419893

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

Series Title: Extended Abstracts of the 2020 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play

ISBN: 9781450375870