Overcoming Social Anxiety: How Virtual Reality and Game-Based Elements are Revolutionizing Patient Therapy.


  • Asge Matthiesen University of Southern Denmark
  • Gunver Majgaard University of Southern Denmark
  • Lasse Juel Larsen University of Southern Denmark




Virtual Reality, Game-based, behavioral change


In this paper, we reflect upon the design process and the game-elements for developing a tool for patients. These reflections are based upon a case in where we developed six different Virtual Reality (VR) scenarios as a combined tool for treatment of social anxiety disorder (SAD) for usage within the Danish healthcare system. The core theory for this development is based upon behavioral therapy as a standardized treatment method and the exposure that occur within this. This research is a part of a larger funded project titled VR8, which also contains integration of biofeedback and the application of the practice in where the tool should be applied. The main goal of this paper is to explain the development of the six scenarios, to provide a deeper understanding for the patients on how their anxiety triggers unfolds when exposed to a variety of different scenarios. And to provide a tool for both patients and practitioners to use as an addition to existing treatment methods. The reason for this development is due to (among others) the cost-reduction, time-reduction, heighten of effectivity and user experience in using VR as a tool for treatment compared to regular in-vivo exposure therapy in where the practitioner guides the patient in a physical environment. In this environment a lot of factors can’t be controlled and often results in the patient giving up and abandoning the treatment. With VR it is a controlled and closed environment making it more suitable for the patient to interact and level out their anxiety. The combination of iterative design thinking, filmmaking methods, game-based elements and agile software development are used as the core methods to develop the six scenarios. The six scenarios are developed with the aid of specific game-based elements, such as: mapping, level-design, audio control and remote action triggers.