Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Engineering and Sciences

First Advisor

Lucas A. Stephane

Second Advisor

Deborah S. Carstens

Third Advisor

John E. Deaton

Fourth Advisor

Nick Kasdaglis


Virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and video games are growing in popularity and fulfilling genuine human needs that the real world is currently unable to satisfy. Games are providing rewards that reality is not. They are teaching and inspiring and engaging us in ways that reality is not (McGonigal, 2011). The purpose of this study was to capture the essence of socialization in virtual reality as a Ph.D. dissertation topic at Florida Institute of Technology - Human-Centered Design. This study used a phenomenology methodology to capture the experiences of beneficial features of players who use virtual reality. The study addresses and defines problems and issues concerning health concerns among military veterans; including contributing factors like loneliness, isolation, treatment eligibility within the Veteran’s Administration (VA), long wait times at VA medical centers (for medical attention), negative perceptions and associations of VA health care facilities, medical centers and military related organizations, and stigmas associated with treatment. The sample consisted of four virtual reality users; English-speaking; and at least 18 years of age. Participants were solicited from in-game play. The findings indicated that Comfortability, Communication, and Community were the major themes in determining the participants lived experience of positive socialization in virtual reality. An emergent property concerning the theme Comfortability was the helpfulness factor. A beneficial feature of virtual reality was that all participants experienced healthy socialization when they were being helped by another player or were being helpful to another player.


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