Conducting Research in Virtual Reality: Experiences of Interviewing Inside the Metaverse
Keywords:Interviewing in Virtual Reality, VR affordances, Metaverse Research Methods, VR use cases
Recent technological developments in the “Metaverse” have made the immersive virtual reality an imminent reality. Most existing metaverse research focuses on the use case and business potential of the metaverse and virtual reality technologies, but little research has been conducted to understand the experiences of early adopters and the motivators and inhibitors which affect their adoption and continued use. We set out to research the use cases of the metaverse among early adopters. A qualitative approach was employed for research, given its strengths in exploring unforeseen themes and allowing early adopters to raise issues which matter most to them. However, we adopted a novel, albeit entirely appropriate, research methodology which offers possible emulation: our interviews were conducted within a popular metaverse application, RecRoom, with semi-structured interviews taking place between avatars. We discovered some interesting differences between interviews in virtual reality, as compared to face-to-face and online interviews, due to the unique affordances of the metaverse. We discuss some of our experiences with interviewing in virtual reality. These include positive experiences which build on the affordances of the virtual reality space; apart from the anonymity (not one’s real face), interview participants experienced a greater social presence afforded by gestures indicating emphasis and emotional expressions. However, we also found some potential problems, such as harassment of the researcher and the difficulties with multi-tasking. Alongside capturing metaverse use cases by early adopters at this juncture of metaverse development, our experiences provide some insights and suggestions which might be useful for future metaverse researchers who intend conducting their research with participants while immersed in a virtual reality space.
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