Astral Body: A Virtual Reality Game for Body Ownership Investigation

Yimin Zhou, Merlijn Mac Gillavry, Pengzhi Yang, Zihao Xu, Baitian Zhang, Rafael Bidarra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


As one of the most disruptive human-computer interaction techniques, Virtual Reality (VR) provides a novel way to examine human movements, e.g. when investigating Body Ownership (BO) in the field of cognitive sciences, especially when the visual output diverges from real-world actions. Previous research in BO uses questionnaires and brain imaging, where the former is a highly subjective metric, and the latter is very costly in time, money, and personnel. To answer the question How can a VR serious game help overcome current challenges of BO assessment?, we designed Astral Body, a VR game that helps cognitive science researchers assess people’s level of BO. In the game, players are asked to grab ‘flying collectibles’ coming from a portal in space. Researchers can inject different types and levels of asynchrony into the arms of the visualized avatar, thus affecting the players’ BO experience and perception. Players, in turn, can also report whenever they perceive possible mismatched avatar behavior. In addition, researchers can analyze player data, including looking for unconscious responses, e.g. small adjustments in physical movements to mitigate injected asynchrony. Preliminary results from playtesting and qualitative analysis of Astral Bodyindicate that a VR game can effectively help researchers investigate BO phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGames and Learning Alliance - 12th International Conference, GALA 2023, Proceedings
EditorsPierpaolo Dondio, Mariana Rocha, Attracta Brennan, Avo Schönbohm, Francesca de Rosa, Antti Koskinen, Francesco Bellotti
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9783031490644
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Event12th International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance, GALA 2023 - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 29 Nov 20231 Dec 2023

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume14475 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference12th International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance, GALA 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Body ownership
  • Control asynchrony
  • Virtual reality


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