The mirror world of athletes: UX of the virtual training and racing platform Zwift in the light of research

Bożena Jaskowska

The aim of the paper is to analyse experiences and impressions of the users of an interactive training application Zwift and an attempt to indicate areas of interpenetration of the physical and virtual worlds in practising amateur sport (on the example of cycling). Can a digital platform simulate real physical effort? Where does the game begin, where does e-sport and actual training and cycling race appear? How is the user experience of the world’s most popular e-biking platform shaped and changed, and what impact do gamification, social elements and the so-called internet of senses have on the UX? These questions, among others, are the basis for outlining the issue of the mirror world of amateur athletes and presenting the user expierience of the Zwift platform users. The paper has been prepared on the basis of literature analysis, in-depth interviews with Zwift users and a survey distributed among members of the Polish Zwift community. The analysis shows that the digital platform not only expands and improves the training possibilities, but also can provide real impressions and emotions, which so far could only be experienced while riding and racing in the open air. The real challenge for a UX designer is to design a unique user experience that is identical to the sports emotions, physical effort and motivation experienced by cycling enthusiasts in the physical world.

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