Jacki Morie, Jamie Antonisse, Sean Bouchard, Eric Chance: “Virtual Worlds as a Healing Modality for Returning Soldiers and Veterans”

June 21, 2009 | Verbania-Intra, Italy

Speaker: Jacki Morie, Jamie Antonisse, Sean Bouchard, Eric Chance
Host: 14th Annual CyberTherapy & CyberPsychology Conference

Those who have served in recent conflicts face many challenges as they reintegrate into society. In addition to recovering from physical wounds, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorders, many soldiers also face basic psychological issues about who they are and how to find their place in a society that has not shared their experiences. To address these challenges, we have created a space that provides ongoing opportunities for healing activities, personal exploration and social camaraderie in an online virtual world, Second Life. In such worlds, where each avatar is controlled by a live individual, experiences can be unintuitive, uninviting, considered boring or difficult to control. To counter this, we are implementing autonomous intelligent agent avatars that can be “on duty” 24/7, serving as guides and information repositories, making the space and activities easy to find and even personalized to the visitor’s needs. We report the results of usability testing with an in-world veterans’ group. Tests comparing soldiers who use this space as part of their reintegration regimen compared to those who do not are being scheduled as part of the Army’s Warriors in Transition program.