Virtual Reality-Augment Reality Glossary

Active presence

an immersive state that is reached as a consequence of using a handheld tool/device (peripheral) within a VR experience


the capacity of an entity (a person or other entity) to act in, and influence, an artificial environment. Agency is a key contributor to enabling a state of presence in the experiencer.


the information resulting from the systematic analysis of both events occurring within the artificial reality and of the device being used to create the artificial reality.

Augmented Reality (AR)

in augmented reality (AR) the visible natural world is overlaid with a layer of digital content

Authorial intent

the extent to which the human author pre-ordains the possible narrative or instills the system with the ability to creatively adapt to the experiencer


A virtual representation of the experience within the virtual world

Butterfly effect system

the butterfly effect system is a storytelling mechanism for managing complex narrative structures where actions from the experiencer can have a direct influence on how the narrative plays out The phrase ‘butterfly effect’ derives from chaos theory where American mathematician Edward Norton Lorenz used it as a metaphor to describe the phenomenon whereby a minor change in circumstances can cause a large change in outcome.


A CAVE (cave automatic virtual environment) is a virtual reality environment made up of between three and six walls that form a roomsized cube


A virtual anchor that is fixed to the experiences view and helps to ground them in the virtual world.

Collision detection

Detection that virtual objects have intersected, sometimes triggering haptic or visual feedback for the experiencer

Data glove

An interactive device – often resemble lining a glove worn on the hand – which connects to a computer system and facilitates fine-motion control within virtual reality

Dollhouse view

A top-down, external view of the entire artificial space allowing the designer to make global decisions about its composition and to enable swift prototyping.

Duck test

A colloquial name for the method of testing if an experiencer has reached a state of presence by monitoring their behaviour when threatened by a virtual object.

Embodied cognition

The idea that cognition is not just limited to the brain, but distributed across the entire body

Embodied presence

Acknowledging the existence of your body within a virtual reality experience

Emergent narrative

When non-player characters (NPCs) have complete autonomy in an interact narrative e.g. The Sims

Emotional presence

A state that evokes an emotional response from the experiencer eg. Empathy, joy, or fun within a virtual reality (VR) experience

Erfahren experience

An erfahren experience typically means that the experiencer gains something from it, usually knowledge. It is therefore directly linked to a specific moment in time, and is an experience that can be recalled in order for future decisions to be made. E.g. If I were to observe someone becoming ill from eating a certain type of berry, then I would lean not to eat that type of berry in the future.

Erleben experience

An intense, personal experience that deeply effects the experiences inner life. An Arleen experience typically describes a singular, exciting , and profound event, however these can be both positive or negative. It often involves the experiencer embodying the experience on some level


Experiencer is another word for ‘user’ or ‘player’

Eye tracking

The ability for a head mounted display (HMD) to read the position of the experiencer’s eyes versus their head. Eye tracking is particularly useful for informing VR analytics, where the developer wants to better understand what content the experiencer is focused on in specific scene or view.

Field of view (FOV)

Is the view the is visible to the experiencer while rotating their head from a fixed body position. The average human field of view is approximately 200 degrees.


(also known as: being in the ‘zone’) The mental state whereby an experiencer is so involved in the process of an activity that nothing else seems to matter.

Game Transfer Phenomena (GTM)

Are the phenomena that occur when virtual reality elements – Primarily from video games – are associated with real life elements triggering subsequent thoughts, sensations and / or behaviour among experiencers / players


The direction the experiencer is looking in

Gaze activated content

When content e.g. the way actors within a scene behave, or the narrative, is directly impacted by he experiencer’s gaze


A form of non-verbal communication through the body – typically the hands or head – that, when tracked by a motion sensing camera attached to a computer, can be interpreted as movement and mirrored in Virtual reality.

Ghost story

A virtual reality (VR) experience where the user is a disembodied observer in and unfolding narrative – as if watching a movie – but incapable of making changes to the world or talking to the characters

Global agency

Interactively where the experiencer’s actions could yield some sort of outcome or have a consequence on the narrative


Haptic technology simulates the sense of touch through the sensation of pressure (usually on the hands via a glove) This helps to support agency by enabling the experiencer to control virtual objects or sense physical forces within the virtual environment

Head mounted display (HMD)

A set of goggles or a helmet with tiny monitors infant of each eye to generate images seen by the we’re as three-dimensional

Head tracking

The ability for a head mounted display (HMD) to monitor the position and orientation of the experiencer’s head through tracking


A graphical representation of data relating to the experiencer’s gaze during a virtual reality (VR) experience. Gaze heat maps are one type of analytics. They utilise a hot (red) to cold (blue/green) system of colourcoding to represent areas of interest within the experience.


An interactive spot within the artificial experience that reveal more content or options. Hotspots can be animated and are often shown as a glowing orb.


A psychological sense of being in virtual environment

Interactive Narrative

A form of digital interactive experience in which experiences create or influence a dramatic storyline through their actions


The time delay or lag between activating a process (change in input from the experiencer) and its accomplishment (the visual effect) High latency can lead to a detached experience and can also contribute to motion sickness / dizziness

Local agency

Interactivity that flavours the experience, but is unlikely to send it down a different narrative path.


Refers to the process of moving from one place to another

This is the most commonly used to refer to movement within the virtual environment, eg, how an avatar navigates the virtual world, but can also refer to the movement outside of the virtual environment e.g. how the experiencer navigates the real world while in a virtual experience.

Locomotion mechanics in Virtual Reality can be broken down into three primary categories:
1. Perambulation
2. Teleportation
3. Transportation

Mixed reality (MR)

Mixed reality (MR) is similar to augmented reality (AR) except virtual objects are integrated into the natural world. For example, a virtual ball beneath your desk would be blocked from views unless you bent down to look at it.

Non-compliant user

A user who doesn’t interact with a responsive narrative

Non-player Characters (NPCs)

Computer controlled characters


The obscuring or hiding an object from view by the positioning of other objects in the experiencer’s line of sight

Overview effect

A cognitive shift in awareness and new sense of perspective triggered after viewing the earth from orbit. The experience is said to evoke a sense of appreciation within the experiencer for the fragility of the earth.


A device that helps enhance a virtual reality experience by enabling greater immersion within the virtual world. The most common VR peripherals are gloves or controllers e.g the Oculus Touch that look to mirror the experiencer’s innate movements and help to facilitate better active presence


Rotation around the horizontals (X) axis

Place illusion (PI)

The feeling of existing in a place

Plausibility illusion (Psi)

The acceptance that the scenario being depicted is actually occurring. Another way of thinking of this illusion is as the automatic and rapid response from the experiencer to the important question: Is this really happening? If the response is ‘no’ then the illusion is broken

Player Modelling

Refers to the process of learning a model of the experiencer’s individual. Differences (e.g. preferences, play style, etc.)

Poison Berry Theory

The ‘poison berry’ theory is an evolutionary idea behind virtual reality sickness. It suggests that experiencing sensory input that is different than what is expected, combined with dizziness, are symptoms associated with being poisoned. From an evolutionary perspective people who are poised benefit from throwing up quickly.

Positional audio

Audio that is triggered based on the position of the headset. For example, in a crowded scene the experiencer would be given the ability to choose which conversation they listen to based on where they are looking.


(also known as: ‘Telepresence’) A feeling of being in and of the visual world, and the ignoring of physical world distractions.

Quantum Story Theory

A principle of crafting an experiential story within a virtual world proposed by Chief creative officer at the Void, Curtis Hickman and further developed by Director of Story Development Tracey Hickman


Creating dynamic, 3D animations and illustrations in virtual reality using the Oculus Quill.

Redirect walking

Is the name given to a technique used to extend the possible size of a virtual reality environment by imperceptibly rotating the virtual scene without the experiencer being aware

Response-as-if-real (RAIR)

A state that escorts when an experiencer responds to a virtual reality as if it were real

Responsive Narrative

Virtual reality narratives that adapt based on interaction from the experiencer, often driven by some form of AI


The reticle is a visual aid for the experiencer to target objects within a virtual reality environment with their gaze


A design paradigm that allows users to move freely within a room-sized environment while partaking in a virtual reality (VR) experience. Through the use of kinetic locomotion mechanics (in the Perambulation category), the experiencer’s physical movements are mirrored within the virtual world and helps to contribute to a greater sense of immersion, with the body being directly engaged – a key contributor to creating a state of embodied presence

The term room-scale is often used to differentiate between other types of virtual reality experiences e.g. a self-contained environment of a VR room or seated or standing VR, in which the user remains stationary.

Self regulating behaviour

Actively making decisions in a scene and by doing so also taking account of time, which in turn makes the passing of time feel longer.

Sensorimotor contingencies

Sensorimotor contingencies (SCs) refer to the actions that we know to carry out in order to perceive

Signposts (signposting)

Environment cues with the added purpose of helping the user to interpret the virtual environment

Social presence

Choosing to actively engage with others within a VR experience

Swayze effect

The sensation of having no tangible relationship with your surroundings despite feeling embodied in the virtual world.

The ‘Elemental Theory of Presence’

The ‘Elemental Theory of Presence’ is a useful model created by Kent Bye for describing the qualitative elements of a Virtual reality experience.

Valid actions

The actions that an experiencer can take that can result in changes in perception, or changes to the environment

Virtual reality (VR)

Virtual reality (VR) places the experiences in another location entirely . Whether that location has been generated by a computer or captured by video, it entirely occludes the experiencer’s natural surroundings

Virtual reality sickness

(also known as: ‘motion sickness’ or ‘simulation sickness’) Is the feeling of general discomfort caused by experiencing virtual reality.

Symptoms can include: headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and disorientation. Research suggests that discomfort – of which virtual reality sickness is a contributing factor – is a major barrier for initiating engagement with virtual reality. Therefore, significantly development time has been spent trying to reduce and eradicate virtual reality sickness through innovation in technology.


WebVR is an emerging technology that aims to present virtual reality content in traditional web browsing interfaces. The experience is delivered through a JavaScript API that provides support for Virtual reality devices.


Rotation around the vertical (Y) axis


Any external or environmental cue that entrains or synchronises an organism’s biological rhythms to the earth’s 24 hour light/dark cycle and 12 month cycle.


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