This paper presents the results of an extended experiment to assess the impact of individualized binaural rendering on player performance in an ecologically valid use context, specifically that of a VR “shooter game,” as part of a larger project to characterize the impact of binaural rendering quality in various VR type applications. Participants played a simple game in which they were faced with successive targets approaching from random directions on a sphere. While audio-visual cues allowed for general target localization, only sections of the game that relied on audio cues were used for analysis. Two HRTF exposure protocols were used, comprising best and worst-match HRTFs from a “perceptually orthogonal” optimized set of HRTFs, during the course of six game sessions. Two groups performed the game sessions exclusively using either their best or worst-match HRTF. Two additional groups performed the game sessions alternating between best and worst-match HRTFs. Results suggest that HRTF quality had minimal general impact on in-game participant performance and improvement rate. However, performance for extreme elevation target positions was affected by the quality of HRTF matching. In addition, a subgroup of participants showed higher sensitivity to HRTF choice than others.
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