The terminology immersion has emerged over the years and have been used widely to describe game experiences. Immersion is known as a powerful experience of gaming and it has been referred to the important experience of interaction by gamers, designers, and game researchers. However, talking about immersion it is not clear what dimension of immersion the authors across different disciplines are referring to. This is a problem especially when it comes to transferring immersion to other domains. The concept of immersion has conquered many fields, but the concept and terminology are most commonly used for software when it comes to virtual reality and games. In game context immersion is related to the level of realism of the game world or to the atmospheric sounds. Furthermore, immersion is highly significant to game enjoyment and is characterized by game characteristics (Brown & Cairns, 2004, pp. 1297–1298).
There are different ways how to immerse into virtual environment. In 1994 Milgram and Kishino already proposed a simplified representation of a virtual continuum (figure 1). The concept of virtuality continuum is characterized as “the mixture of classes of objects presented in any particular display situation … where real environments, are shown at one end of the continuum, and virtual environments, at the opposite extremum” (Milgram & Kishino, 1994, pp. 1321–1322). In their paper focusing on mixed reality the authors differentiate between different dimensions of immersion which contain of the real environment, augmented reality, augmented virtuality, and virtual environment. It is closer to the real world with the perception of being the real world improved by digital data or assets. Augmented virtuality, however, is closer to a complete immersive virtual environment with the difference that it involves systems that are mostly computer generated, but still have real environment elements (Milgram & Kishino, 1994, pp. 1324–1325; Yuen, Yaoyuneyong, & Johnson, 2011, p. 121).
Figure 1: A taxonomy of mixed reality visual displays
Source: Own illustration based on Milgram and Kishino (1994, p. 1322)
With the rapid technical development of the gaming industry the need for gamification within the companies increases. Within this development technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality become more important with respect to strategic and operational possibilities to achieve a sustainable growth. Enterprise gamification gains more and more attention. In the economy requires the transfer of games-industry-know-how to other industries. But, it is rather unclear who should transfer this knowledge and how. Anderie (2018) shares the opinion that in order to achieve this know-how transfer to other industries, game developer and publisher, universities, and companies need to overcome major differences in their systems to achieve that goal (Anderie, 2018, p. 41).
Many firms worldwide have recognized this development and some of them already began to evaluate how to use virtual reality and augmented reality in their enterprise wide processes. Since the appearance of affordable and consumer friendly hardware, virtual as well as augmented reality hit the mainstream. Virtual reality already has an impact in many fields in business. Any process which can be carried out in the physical world can easily be simulated in virtual reality. Such processes in business would range from customer service to marketing, finance, human resources, and production. The application of virtual reality can have different purposes like for training or practical application. In case of training, virtual reality allows the user to immerse himself in any situation which can be simulated. Additionally, virtual reality can be used for other human resources related tasks such as for on-boarding processes, recruitment, and learning. Most of the time companies struggle with the on-boarding of new employees due to the lack of time and unclear guidelines. This may harm the reputation and also the productivity of the company. Virtual reality can improve HR-processes significantly e.g. by enabling new employees a virtual tour around the company and the workplace itself in advance so the new employee has already an idea in which environment he will enter (Marr, 2017, p. 1; Roebroek, 2016, pp. 1-3). Furthermore, in multinational companies it is not unusual that the CEO holds speeches in the headquarter which is also important to the other subsidiaries. Due to the large distances employees do not have the chance to attend those speeches. With the help of virtual reality, they could attend the speech without travelling long distances. Another possible application of virtual reality would be the induction training in safety which also could be done remote. There are already companies which do such training with the help of interactive immersive systems e.g. Simtars from Australia. Another possible use case of immersive systems with high impact would be the recruitment process. Companies still struggle to recruit talents which fit to the company. Immersive systems enable companies to attract new employees by providing them an immersive and engaging experience of the future work itself. The British Army already implemented immersive system to their recruitment processes. New candidates have the chance to go through different virtual reality experiences to test the candidate if they are capable of doing the work even in crisis situations (Marr, 2017, p. 1; Roebroek, 2016, pp. 1-3; Rust, 2017,p. 2; Waugh, 2017, p. 1).
Although immersive systems like virtual reality and augmented reality are nothing new companies are still in the period of investigating how they can use such technologies in different areas of their daily business. With the emergence of gamification companies recognized the business potential of immersive interactive technologies and now try to develop use cases in order to figure out how such technology could improve and change their business processes. Thyssen Krupp already introduced an augmented reality use case for their remote maintenance of elevators where the service technician uses the Hololens from Microsoft to analyse the elevator which need to be maintained. They display all relevant information regarding the elevator on the glass and if necessary they have to possibility to let them connect to their fellow colleagues to discuss about the work which needs to be done. The Hololens enables the service technicians a hands-free navigation on the device and as a result they can do their work without removing their hands from the elevator (Ridder, 2016). Besides, the Australian company Simtars uses virtual reality technology to provide their customers a safety training in an interactive virtual environment. Also, the military started to use immersive systems for the recruitment processes like the British Army. More companies will follow this development and in future such immersive systems will be a crucial element in companies’ processes. This will represent a step forward into the era of digitalization and will lead to a reshape of the future workplace of many jobs across different industries (Porter & Heppelmann, 2017).
This exposé of the master’s thesis is structured in the following way. After this introduction to the topic, in the next chapter the theoretical background which is necessary for the understanding of the topic is given. Within the theoretical background crucial terminologies such as ‘immersive systems’, ‘virtual reality’, ‘augmented reality’, and ‘gamification’ will be explained. This is followed by the next chapter in which the derivation of the research question will be stated, and the aim of the master thesis will be explained. The final chapter consist of the research method which will be applied during for the thesis.