Where am I? how can i get there? impact of navigability and narrative transportation on spatial presence

Bimal Balakrishnan, S. Shyam Sundar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


From video games to virtual worlds on the World Wide Web, modern media are becoming increasingly spatial, with users traversing artificial spaces and experiencing a kind of immersion known as spatial presence. But how do these media induce spatial presence? Are the affordances for movement provided by these technologies responsible for this illusion? Or do narratives that accompany them persuade us to suspend disbelief and transport ourselves into a virtual space? We explore these theoretical questions by pitting the navigability affordances of a video game against narrative transportation and examining their relative contributions to the formation of spatial presence in a virtual reality context. Results from a large experiment (N = 240) reveal that the narrative actually detracts from spatial presence while traversibility (in the form of greater degrees of steering motion) enhances it even without invoking a mental model of the portrayed environment. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-204
Number of pages44
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2011


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction

Cite this