An alternative (to) reality

Jones, Derek (2013). An alternative (to) reality. In: Childs, Mark and Peachey, Anna eds. Understanding Learning in Virtual Worlds. Human–Computer Interaction Series. London: Springer London, pp. 1–20.




This chapter explores the idea that a generation of successful virtual environments relies on a better understanding of how we conceive virtual and physical realities in our minds, in particular, to recognise that our conception of these realities is at least as important as our perception of them. The failure and success of certain virtual environments are explained as the failure and success of the application of conceived phenomena.

Firstly, making use of philosophical phenomenology and recent scientific research, our understanding of physical reality is considered in terms of phenomenal conception and it is shown that ‘objective’ perception is only one part of our relationship to physical environments. Secondly, the other point of view is considered and virtual environments are argued to be just as valid phenomenal conceptions as their physical counterparts.

Finally, the translation of phenomenal conceptions between realities is considered, providing a different way of considering how we think about and design all types of reality. Several interesting potential avenues of investigation are identified and examples of the emergence of this approach are presented.

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