Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
environment, for around 50 years (virtual reality was practised without being aware of
it, just like Mr Jourdain in Moliere's “The Bourgeois Gentleman'' who was “speaking
prose all his life, and didn't even know it''). Virtual reality in essence involves a number
of fields:
In the field of science and technology , virtual reality is a part of the STIC field
(Science and Technology of Information and Communication). However, the scope of
virtual reality goes beyond the scope of information technology and communication
since it means acting in a virtual world. A number of disciplines are competing to
achieve new advances in the field of virtual reality:
Computer science proposes and continues to develop new algorithms to process
digital models and create interactive virtual environments;
Remote-control operations and robotics by its capacity to develop new active
organs that work with humans;
Mechanics, optics, and acoustics that provide digital models of physical
In the field of human sciences and natural sciences , Man, the “user'', is at the centre
of the approach taken for developing technologies of virtual reality, which involves a
strong synergy between various disciplines of this field. To give a few examples:
Experimental psychology and the behavioural sciences develop theories and inves-
tigation protocols for the study of human actions and perceptions in controlled
conditions, in real environment as in virtual environments.
Ergonomics develops methods and knowledge that aim at improving the manner
in which the human factors are considered while designing and also improving the
methods of assessing the environments of virtual reality, so that these environments
are in accordance with the objectives of the users, working conditions, comfort
and safety requirements, etc.
Cognitive psychology studies the nature of cognitive processes of the subject
immersed in an activity taking place in a virtual universe, to better understand the
characteristics of these environments or to use virtual worlds by experimentation
and modelling.
Physiology, neurobiology, etc.
On these grounds, virtual reality holds a special position in the usual scientific scheme
by coupling human sciences with engineering. This position is an advantage of the
intrinsic interdisciplinary nature of this domain. However, this position is also a diffi-
culty to overcome, on the one hand in terms of training the actors of the domain, and
on the other hand in terms of recognition for this multidisciplinary foundation on the
part of the various disciplines that enrich it. For example, it would be too simplistic
to consider virtual reality merely as a branch of computer science. Though computers
make it possible to effectively program and simulate the virtual worlds, interaction of
man with these worlds is possible only through software programmes and technical
devices compatible with cognitive, perceptive and social processes. Conversely, better
understanding and formalising of the difficulties and characteristics of cognition and
interaction in the virtual worlds offers an empirical foundation to stimulate research
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