Effects of avatar perspective on joint excursions used to play virtual dodgeball: Within-subject comparative study

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: Visual representation of oneself is likely to affect movement patterns. Prior work in virtual dodgeball showed greater excursion of the ankles, knees, hips, spine, and shoulder occurs when presented in the first-person perspective compared to the third-person perspective. However, the mode of presentation differed between the two conditions such that a head-mounted display was used to present the avatar in the first-person perspective, but a 3D television (3DTV) display was used to present the avatar in the third-person. Thus, it is unknown whether changes in joint excursions are driven by the visual display (head-mounted display versus 3DTV) or avatar perspective during virtual gameplay. Objective: This study aimed to determine the influence of avatar perspective on joint excursion in healthy individuals playing virtual dodgeball using a head-mounted display. Methods: Participants (n=29, 15 male, 14 female) performed full-body movements to intercept launched virtual targets presented in a game of virtual dodgeball using a head-mounted display. Two avatar perspectives were compared during each session of gameplay. A first-person perspective was created by placing the center of the displayed content at the bridge of the participant’s nose, while a third-person perspective was created by placing the camera view at the participant’s eye level but set 1 m behind the participant avatar. During gameplay, virtual dodgeballs were launched at a consistent velocity of 30 m/s to one of nine locations determined by a combination of three different intended impact heights and three different directions (left, center, or right) based on subject anthropometrics. Joint kinematics and angular excursions of the ankles, knees, hips, lumbar spine, elbows, and shoulders were assessed. Results: The change in joint excursions from initial posture to the interception of the virtual dodgeball were averaged across trials. Separate repeated-measures ANOVAs revealed greater excursions of the ankle (P=.010), knee (P=.001), hip (P=.0014), spine (P=.001), and shoulder (P=.001) joints while playing virtual dodgeball in the first versus third-person perspective. Aligning with the expectations, there was a significant effect of impact height on joint excursions. Conclusions: As clinicians develop treatment strategies in virtual reality to shape motion in orthopedic populations, it is important to be aware that changes in avatar perspective can significantly influence motor behavior. These data are important for the development of virtual reality assessment and treatment tools that are becoming increasingly practical for home and clinic-based rehabilitation.