Game Development Reference
12.2.4 Tactile observation
Tactile observation is still not used as much because there are no effective interfaces
on offer. The determination of characteristics of a contact (surface state, vibrations,
pressure and temperature) can be facilitated by the related visual observation. Virtual
metaphors can also be used, like variable sounds of different characteristics depending
on the types of contacts. These techniques and their use are elaborated in chapter 10
of this volume.
We have identified movement as one of the main interaction tasks in a virtual envi-
ronment. This task lets users change their position in the environment and is generally
divided into two distinct parts. On the one hand, the motor element facilitates effec-
tive movement from one point to another. The techniques of effective movement in
a virtual environment are described in section 12.4. On the other hand, the cogni-
tive element , called wayfinding , lets users orient themselves in the environment and
choose a path for moving around. In this chapter, we are interested in the pro-
cesses of wayfinding during movements, in the real environment or in the virtual
Wayfinding corresponds to the cognitive element of navigation. It involves cogni-
tive efforts (attention, memory ... ) for planning routes to be taken during travel.
Wayfinding is a permanent activity in our day-to-day movements. This activity can
be performed automatically and partially subconsciously in environments that are
familiar to us. For example, travelling to our place of work does not require special
concentration efforts on our part. On the other hand, this activity can gain a lot of
importance when we find ourselves in environments that are unknown to us.
Wayfinding helps us to orient ourselves in an environment based on an analysis
of elements that surround us in relation to the knowledge that we have of this envi-
ronment. For example, the identification of reference points like belfries or rivers and
the experience gained by walking on the streets, allows us to get our bearings in an
urban environment. Thus, we are able to choose the directions in which we wish to
In virtual reality, several limiting factors, like fields of reduced vision or the absence
of physical constraints, make the processes of wayfinding difficult. They often lead
to user disorientation. As a result, virtual environments should be created in such a
manner as to help the users in their navigation tasks. Software aids can be offered for
making wayfinding processes easier.
In this section, we are first of all introducing the fundamental concepts related
to wayfinding. We will then focus on the virtual world by identifying the factors that
make wayfinding difficult. Finally, we will introduce techniques that promote the
performances of users during their movement tasks, by copying the real world as well
as by making use of infinite possibilities offered by the virtual world.