Virtual Reality Research: Active Self and Presence

Special Issue of the i-com Journal of Interactive Media


i-com Cover

We would like to draw your attention towards a call for a special issue Virtual Reality Research: Active Self and Presence to be guest-edited by Raphael Zender, Alexander H. Knoth, and Martin H. Fischer in i-com – Journal of Interactive Media.

“Virtual Reality” is a highly virulent topic that addresses cognitive, social, technical and ethical dimensions which offer an interesting view on digitalized modern societies. There is a need for conceptual reflections and empirical research in all fields of science. Especially inter-disciplinary approaches promise a broader comprehension of this complex phenomenon in the light of active self and presence.

Sensory and motor activities are at the core of cognition and provide the foundation of two cognitive concepts: First, the “minimal self-concept” in the notion of “me” as an intentional and effective agent in the present moment. Second, Presence in the sense of “being” in as well as being aware of a physical or virtual environment. Both perceptions together have an essential influence on the interaction of humans and computer systems – culminated in Virtual Reality (VR) experiences.

On the one hand, there is currently considerable interest in the sensory-motor foundations of the minimal self, for example in the DFG-sponsored priority program The Active Self. On the other hand, the current VR hype brings a mass of innovative technologies that can be used to influence the presence in simulated environments. For cognitive research, the manipulations of the active self and presence with the help of VR are particularly promising among the many available tools to study sensory-motor couplings and their cognitive consequences. For sociological informed Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research, the potentials of Active Self and Presence have to be understood for a holistic model of interactions with media and media based interactions between individuals. But what does that mean for the constitution of the social within these settings? How is individual action coordinated? How do interactions rule emerge? If individuals are represented virtually, for example with a virtualized “body”, which social categories do establish and structure interactions? Which mechanisms attribute to individual identity? In other words: If VR irritates societal expectations of normality, what are the consequences for communication of social, temporal and spatial expectations?

The systematic, computer supported decoupling and distortion of sensory input, motor output and the monitoring of social activities is likely to inform current theories of cognition as well as the production of the social generally, and of embodied cognition in particular. VR offers manifold methodological possibilities for experimental research designs. Questions which have to be addressed include: What are the context conditions and factors that lead to the feeling of presence and co-presence (Goffman)? How can these factors be measured, weighed, and traded? How can the measurement and manipulation of these factors be realized in VR? Which ethical aspects do play a role? How do Active Self and Presence influence interactive media?

This special issue of the i-com – Journal of Interactive Media aims to combine the interdisciplinary perspectives on this topic from developmental and cognitive psychologists, cognitive scientists, neuropsychologists, sociologists, human factors engineers, interface designers, and educational practitioners, as well as industry representatives and software developers.


The special issue on "Virtual Reality Research: Active Self and Presence" accepts experimental and theoretical papers of 9.000 to 15.000 words, as well as reviews, commentaries and perspectives, all in English language. All submissions will be peer-reviewed to ensure thematic suitability, high quality and timeliness of the work. Colored illustrations are welcome. Images do not count against the word limit. At least 3 reviewer from different disciplines will evaluate each paper. Thus, the authors should take the interdisciplinary readability of their papers into account. The authors of positively valued contributions in the first review process will have some time to incorporate the comments of the reviewers and submit a revised version of their papers, which will be evaluated again to make a final decision. Feel free to contact the guest editors for any advance inquiries about the suitability of your work for the special issue by emailing us short abstracts.

Submissions will be handled through the De Gruyter Electronic Manuscript Submission System ScholarOne. Please register for the plattform and submit your papers using the following link:

Since the contributions will be typeset by the publisher, no special template is required. For your orientation, you may use the templates on the publishers website . The authors incur no costs related to the publication.

Beside the print journal, the final journal will be hosted on De Gruyter's integrated content platform, making it easy to access and search for the global research community.


Submission of papers

May 7, 2018 (last extension)

First review decision

August 31, 2018

Revision due

September 30, 2018

Acceptance notification

October 15, 2018

Final manuscript due

October 31, 2018

Expected publication

in April 2019


Martin Lachmair

Institute for Knowledge Media Tübingen

Helmut M. Niegemann

Saarland University

Anja Richert

RWTH Aachen University

Frank P. Schulte

FOM University

Heinrich Söbke

Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Further reviewers are currently asked to join the editorial board of the special issue. Beside generally requested reviewers, qualified authors will be asked to join the board.


Responsible in terms of § 10 Para. 3 MDStV for the website content is

Raphael Zender
Universität Potsdam, Institut für Informatik und Computational Science
August-Bebel-Str. 89
14482 Potsdam

Some icons from are licensed by CC BY 3.0: ( "Small Megaphone" and "Small camera" by Daniel Bruce, "Target", "Clock Circular Outline", and "Plain flag", and and "Calendar", and "Group of three men standing side by side hugging each other", and "Man reading", and "Login symbol" by Freepik ). The header photograph is taken by Jonas Tana, and published under CC BY NC ND 2.0.