The Island of Play: Reflections on How to Design Multiuser VR to Promote Social Interaction

Lasse Juel Larsen, Troels Deibjerg Kristensen, Bo Kampmann Walther, Gunver Majgaard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

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This article consists of reflections and considerations concerning a virtual reality design case: The Island of Play. It is a multiuser virtual reality prototype aimed at maintaining and encouraging social relationships between long term hospitalized children and their friends. The motivation behind this design is the dire situation long term hospitalized children often find themselves in. They experience isolation and marginalization due to constraints from hospitalization. A consequence hereof is a limited access to social interaction as well as a reduced opportunity to play with friends from either home or school. The Island of Play was essentially designed to set up a virtual meeting place to stimulate socialization through play. This article sits at the intersection between game design theory and actual design impressions, with a particular focus on how real-world design interweaves with theoretical considerations. The argument that follows is structured over five sections: 1) First, we contemplate the design of the player’s character. 2) Second, we scrutinize the relationship between game objects and playful interactions. 3) Then we move on to consider the design of social experiences, 4) followed by the fourth section where we inspect the value of the magic circle as a design metric. 5) Finally, in the fifth section, we reflect on the importance of weighing the player’s sensation of purpose and skill against interacting with the application. Overall, this design case pivots around design issues and considerations involved in the development of play and game scenarios in a multiuser VR-application aimed at bolstering the social fabric between long term hospitalized children and their friends.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Human-Computer Interaction : HCII 2022: Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality: Design and Development
EditorsJessie Y. C. Chen, Gino Fragomeni
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-05938-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-05939-1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: HCI International 2022 - Virtual
Duration: 26. Jun 20221. Jul 2022
Conference number: 24


Conference24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction
Internet address
SeriesLecture Notes in Computer Science


  • Design issues and theory
  • Development
  • Game design theory
  • Multiplayer VR
  • Virtual playground
  • Virtual reality


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