University of Sussex

File(s) under permanent embargo

Cyberball3D+: a 3D serious game for fMRI investigating social exclusion and empathy

conference contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 20:16 authored by Evangelia Mavromihelaki, Jessica EcclesJessica Eccles, Neil Harrison, Thomas Grice-Jackson, Jamie WardJamie Ward, Hugo CritchleyHugo Critchley, Katerina Mania
This paper presents a 3D interactive gaming paradigm for the secluded space of an fMRI scanner. The Cyberball3D+ game is a virtual ball-toss game in which the participant is either excluded or not from ball tossing played by three virtual players and the subject in the scanner. It has been used in simple sketch mode by neuroscientists for research on ostracism, social exclusion or rejection as well as discrimination and prejudice. The game proposed is designed to render an interactive Virtual Environment (VE) on an fMRI display, enabling the conduct of formal neuroscientific experiments and investigating the effects of social exclusion, empathy and different level of anthropomorphism on human brain activity. Although, here, the focus is on the technical implementation of the system, the goal is to use this system to explore whether the pain felt by someone when socially excluded is the same when observing other people get socially excluded and whether there are differences in relation to empathy for friends and strangers. Moreover, for the first time, we propose a validated neuroscientific measure of character believability and emotional engagement. The system was developed in close collaboration between the Technical University of Crete where the technical implementation took place and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School where the initial fMRI experiments were conducted using the system proposed. A broader aim of this work is to assess whether such powerful social-psychological studies could be usefully carried out within VEs advancing cognitive neuroscience and computer graphics as well as serious gaming research.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version


2014 6th International Conference on Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications (VS-Games)


Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers

Page range


Event location

Valletta, Malta

Event type


Event date

9 - 12 September 2014

Book title

2014 6th International Conference on Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications (VS-GAMES)



Department affiliated with

  • Clinical and Experimental Medicine Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Vanessa Camilleri, Matthew Montebello, Alexei Dingli

Legacy Posted Date


First Open Access (FOA) Date


First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager