Virtual Semantics

Renewed cultural interest in virtual reality (VR) has prompted a need for researchers to explore the semantic aspects of VR software, hardware, and user experience. Our ongoing practice-based research initiative is driven by the creation of several VR experiences, particularly the best-selling VR game Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades, and the debates and discussions that have surrounded these creative processes. The research team is particularly interested in studying the intersection of nascent technologies, designers’ needs, and the developing cultural knowledges of gaming communities. For example: should a designer use the ‘menu button’ on the HTC Vive controller solely to trigger display of an in-game menu? Or should the designers use that button in a way that better suits their game’s needs and designs? And how does the designers’ decision impact and/or conflict with the semantic understanding of a community of users? Further, what options do users have to contribute to these kinds of debates and decisions? Our research group is using these and similar questions to drive a playful research process, which we hope can directly impact the development of a shared cultural understanding of virtual semantics.

Participating Researchers

Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz (RUST LTD. and USC); Yovanna Cifuentes-Goodbody and Craig Dietrich (Center for Digital Liberal Arts, Occidental College); Anton Hand, Lucas Miller, Luke Noonan (RUST LTD.)


  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam, and Craig Dietrich. “Virtual Semantics”. In progress.

Public Talks and Presentations

  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam, and Craig Dietrich. ``Virtual Semantics”. IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing, The Hills Hotel, Laguna Hills, CA, 01 Feb. 2018.

Artistic Output

  • RUST LTD. Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades. Available on Steam.


  • Image Gallery (forthcoming).
  • Video Documentation (forthcoming).

Photo Credit

  • The photo at the top of this page is a still image taken from a gif found onilne. We have not yet been able to determine who created the gif, nor how to gain permission for use of the image; as a result, we plan to replace the image soon with one created by the Playwork team. The original gif was found here.


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