Choreografish: A Virtual Reality Game Developed with Young Adults with Autism

Poster Presentation
Friday, May 3, 2019: 10:00 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
E. Handman1, R. Altizer2, G. Bayles3, C. Wright4, T. Russell5 and V. D'Astous6, (1)Dance, University of Utah, SLC, UT, (2)GApp Lab, University of Utah, SLC, UT, (3)Entertainment Arts and Engineering, University of Utah, SLC, UT, (4)University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, (5)Biology, University of Utah, SLC, UT, (6)FCS, University of Utah, SLC, UT
Background: This virtual reality game was developed in full collaboration with 17 young adults with autism. From our first meeting exploring what the game should be about, these students provided input and as the game was developed they regularly evaluated the content and provided critical evaluation.

Objectives: One focus of the game was anxiety reduction. The purpose of this pilot research was to determine if Choreografish had the potential to decrease anxiety in young adults with ASD.

Methods: This research used the VR game called Choreografish, which was developed by an interdisciplinary research team and students with ASD. Participants choose their own music to choreograph the swim patterns of virtual fish within the VR environment.

To measure anxiety levels, we created three similar assessments based on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder questionnaire (GAD-7). The GAD-7* provides 7 questions regarding anxiety and a subject ranks his/her responses according to a 4-point scale; 1 being “Not at all” and 4 being “Nearly every day.”

Seven young adults with ASD were recruited to evaluate the game Choreografish and participant in the research related to anxiety reduction. These students provided a baseline of their anxiety and a pre-assessment of anxiety prior to playing the game. After playing the VR game, participants were asked to take a post-assessment and provide feedback on how the game could be improved and/or modified to further the development of anxiety reduction

  • Results: Overall, our collected data shows a trend of decreasing anxiety among the participants after playing the VR game Choreografish. These results support our hypothesis and suggest VR gaming as a potential method of anxiety reduction due to its controlled environment, soothing color scheme, and predictable pattern

Conclusions: The preliminary results in anxiety reduction are promising. And equally important is the empowerment of these young adults with autism as part of our research and development team. They were an important part of the team and their ideas and suggestions were incorporated into the game design.