Virtual worlds are computer-based simulations intended to give its users the impression of being in another place. Presence, or the sense of “being there,” is a major design requirement for virtual environments where users inhabit an artificial reality in the form of two or three-dimensional graphical representations. Promoting this subjective experience has always been one of the major concerns of designers, but this complex and difficult task requires the awareness of other design requirements and their effects on presence. This article aims to define various psychological and technological aspects of presence based on virtual environment design requirements defined by Stuart .
Previous research tried to define hypothesized factors of presence by using subjective user responses obtained from questionnaires. This study incorporates a different approach to define potential components of presence, specifying the individual design requirements for virtual worlds based on the conceptual framework designed by Stuart. This framework has not been applied to the analysis of the concept of presence before, and it defines possible factors that contribute to a sense of presence, some of which have not been included in previous work. In order to decompose presence into its components, researchers should also be aware of the design requirements delineated in this framework.
Detailed analysis of design requirements will focus on a computer role-playing game (RPG), giving examples from one of the best titles in the genre. Since role-playing games are social and interactive worlds where players assume the role of a virtual character that can be subjectively defined as a second-self, they are highly relevant to presence research. Thus, selected design requirements will be discussed from a computer-gaming perspective by defining how each relevant requirement is addressed on the selected RPG, and how they should be addressed by game designers.