Gamifying a VR phobia therapy app

The fear of spiders (arachnophobia) and fear of heights (acrophobia) belong to the group of specific phobias. This term designates an irrational fear felt by the individual. This highly frequent type of phobia can cause severe troubles to affected people, insofar as they will seek to avoid at all costs any contact with the concerned situation. One of the ways to overcome those phobias (or at least to learn to live with them) is called exposure therapy. This technique consists in confronting the patient with his fear, and that by progressive steps. In that way, one expects the person’s fear to decrease as the exposure increases. In the case of arachnophobia and acrophobia, the use of this method would imply too much hardly manageable requirements for the therapist (e.g.: possessing a set of spiders, bringing the patient to high places, etc.). It is with the purpose of solving this issue that Mr. Marco Mattei developed a virtual reality (VR) as part of his master’s work [1]. This app allows its user to be confronted with a spider whose appearance and size can vary, or to take an elevator in the middle of a city. All this in virtual immersion, thanks to the use of a virtual reality headset (Oculus Quest). In its current state, the app can only be used with the help of the therapist, who controls the behaviour of the elements as the patient observes. Gamifying it would make its use autonomous, and more fun. Indeed, the user may progress at its own rhythm, as levels of the game correspond to steps of the therapy. Moreover, the patient will focus on winning the game rather than thinking it is following a therapy.

General information
  • Date: 21.05.2021
  • Type: Semester project
  • Responsible: Fouad Hanoun


  • Paul Roulin
Elena Mugellini
Head of HumanTech
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Fouad Hanoun