In research that somewhat validates the tech industry's recent obsession with virtual reality headsets, researchers discovered that people who receive instructions for a task remember them better when they are accompanied by a virtual reality experience.
The team, from the Human-Computer Interaction Lab and based out of Ital's Udine university, published their findings in IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.
But virtual reality was not the only thing the researchers did to help people remember more. Instead they employed an element of fear, scaring the users and effectively giving them a 'teachable moment' using the VR goggles.
These experiences are called immersive serious games, combining game elements with reality.
In their experiment, the researchers used an aviation safety game that allowed players to experience a serious aircraft emergency with the goal of surviving it. The team compared the proposed approach to a traditional aviation safety briefing - the beloved back of the seat safety card used by most airlines.
The scientists did not focus on learning immediately after the experience but instead looked at knowledge retention over a longer time span. They felt that this was a fundamental requirement, because people need to remember safety procedures in order to apply them when faced with danger.
A test administered before, immediately after and one week after the experiment showed that the immersive serious game was superior to the safety card. Moreover, the study showed that the immersive serious game was more engaging and fear-inducing than the safety card, a factor that contributes to the superior memory retention.
Safety education of citizens could be a particularly promising domain for immersive serious games, because people tend not to pay attention to and benefit from current safety materials.