Onboarding and Offboarding in Virtual Reality: A user-centred framework for audience experience across genres and spaces

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Virtual reality (VR) technology is an emerging medium of experience in many different public-facing entertainment and cultural contexts, such as immersive theatre, live performance, VR film festivals, gaming arcades, escape rooms and museum exhibitions. The processes of ushering audience members or users into the virtual experience and out again, to which I refer here as “onboarding” and “offboarding”, have been considered within some specific contexts, or on a case-by-case basis, but to date no systematised consideration of the VR onboarding and offboarding has been produced. One reason for this is that ambiguities in disciplinary and practical definitions of immersion have obscured the relationship between VR technology and users. Clarification of this relationship results in clear evidence of a need for attention to onboarding and offboarding processes in public-facing contexts.

In this paper, I define onboarding and offboarding, and present a framework for considering the onboarding and offboarding experiences of virtual reality audiences that helps stakeholders identify both their responsibilities to audiences and the best way to facilitate the immersive experience. This framework is based upon identifying experience goals, centred on the affordances of virtual reality and principles of immersion and presence, and utilises the Immersive Audience Framework (Bennett et al 2021) developed by StoryFutures in its interdisciplinary research with immersive audiences since 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jul 2023


  • audience insight
  • exhibition
  • frames
  • immersive experience
  • invitation
  • live audiences
  • offboarding
  • onboarding
  • screen audiences
  • transition
  • user experience
  • virtual reality

Cite this