Lost Spirit: Flying in VR

[Team Project] Lost Spirit is an experiential-based Virtual Reality (VR) game whereby the player is trans­ported into the spirit world as they take flight to the afterlife. Experience flight, weight­less­ness, and wonder. In Lost Spirit, you are stuck in the limbo — a world between the living and the dead. You will drift and fly through dif­fer­ent envi­ron­ments, each cor­re­spond­ing to dif­fer­ent emo­tions asso­ci­ated with death. Find your way to the after­life, and finally be at peace. Search for the after­life or else risk being stuck in the forever!

[My Role] Project Leader, Body-environment Interaction Designer, Developer, Researcher


Immersive VR as a research tool provides numerous opportunities of what one can do and see in a virtual world which is not possible in real world. Being able to fly is an experience that humans have long dreamed of achieving. In this paper, we introduce a VR game where participants can use their body gestures as a Natural User Interface (NUI) to control flying movements via a Microsoft Kinect. The goal of this research is to explore the navigational experience of flying via body gestures: how people map their gestures to navigation control easily in a VR environment.


We developed a VR game named Lost Spirit to test the most natural interaction in a flying-as-navigation experience. The player can fly above a forest, as well as complete tasks such as (1) finding and collecting five hidden items in the dark forest; and (2) handing them over to the final Gate Tree to finish. In the game, the player wears an Oculus Rift DK2 HMD with headphones, and controls his/her flying movement using predefined body gestures via a Kinect tracking sensor. Below figure shows how the players can control their body gestures to “fly” up/down and rotate right/left in Lost Spirit. We conducted a pilot study to explore the ease of use of the flying gestures as well as participants’ subjective experience of flying in VR and their preferred natural interactions.


In general, participants were engaged with the experience and liked the overall feeling of flying in a VR environment. We received positive feedback from most participants for the creativity and novelty of this game design, flying control and fundamental game concepts.


The findings of this research provide inspirations and insights for future VR-human interface design to construct an easy approach for body-gesture controlled movement in navigating-asflying scenario. Although the application of Kinect offers novel interface in human-computer interaction through NUI, limitations also restrict the way people can interact with the VR system. From an ergonomic aspect, human beings are not made for moving a long time with outstretched arms, because they become heavy and start hurting. This especially happens during longer navigation and application sessions. However, for the short VR sessions, this problem is not a limitation so far. Further, Kinect does not supply haptic feedback to the users. Those should also be concerns addressed in future research regarding this topic.


Tong, X., Kitson, A., Salimi, M., Fracchia, D., Gromala, D., & Riecke, B. E. (2016, March). Exploring embodied experience of flying in a virtual reality game with kinect. In 2016 IEEE International Workshop on Mixed Reality Art (MRA) (pp. 5-6). IEEE.



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