The latest social VR technologies have enabled users to attend traditional media and arts performances together while being geographically removed, making such experiences accessible despite budget, distance, and other restrictions. In this work, we aim at improving the way remote performances are shared by designing and evaluating a VR theatre lobby which serves as a space for users to gather, interact, and relive the common experience of watching a virtual opera. We conducted an initial test with experts (N&#x003D;10, i.e., designers and opera enthusiasts) in pairs using our VR lobby prototype, developed based on the theoretical lobby design concept. A unique aspect of our experience is its highly realistic representation of users in the virtual space. The test results guided refinements to the VR lobby structure and implementation, aiming to improve the user experience and align it more closely with the social VR lobby&#x0027;s intended purpose. With the enhanced prototype, we ran a between-subject controlled study (N&#x003D;40) to compare the user experience in the social VR lobby between individuals and paired participants. To do so, we designed and validated a questionnaire to measure the user experience in the VR lobby. Results of our mixed-methods analysis, including interviews, questionnaire results, and user behavior, reveal the strength of our social VR lobby in connecting with other users, consuming the opera in a deeper manner, and exploring new possibilities beyond what is common in real life All supplemental materials are available at <uri></uri>.

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IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam (CWI), The Netherlands

Lee, S., Viola, I., Rossi, S., Guo, Z., Reimat, I., Ławicka, K., … César Garcia, P. S. (2024). Designing and evaluating a VR lobby for a socially enriching remote opera watching experience. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. doi:10.1109/TVCG.2024.3372081