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Advances in Human-Computer Interaction
Volume 2012, Article ID 831959, 9 pages
Research Article

Psychophysiology to Assess Impact of Varying Levels of Simulation Fidelity in a Threat Environment

1Clinical Neuropsychology and Simulation (CNS) Lab, Department of Psychology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203, USA
2Institute for Creative Technologies, University of Southern California, Playa Vista, Los Angeles, CA 90094, USA
3Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA

Received 25 March 2012; Accepted 13 September 2012

Academic Editor: Pablo Moreno-Ger

Copyright © 2012 Thomas D. Parsons et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There are many virtual environments found in the serious game community that simulate real world scenarios. There is a broad range of fidelity and experimental controls among these serious games. An important component to most evaluations is the extent to which level of fidelity impacts the persons immersed in the serious game. While a great deal of virtual environment and serious game research has assessed the subjective state or feeling of the participant (e.g., the participant’s sense of presence) through the use of questionnaires, the current study examines participant experience by examining psychophysiological responses of participants to their surroundings. The primary goal in this study was evaluative: will a virtual environment with arousing contents result in increased sensory arousal if it is presented in a highly immersive configuration? A secondary goal of this study was to investigate the utility of our environment to offer varying levels of stimulus threat to impact the user’s experience of the virtual environment. Increased simulation fidelity in an arousing environment resulted in faster heart rates and increased startle eyeblink amplitudes, suggesting that higher fidelity scenarios had great efficacy related to sensory arousal.