In class, a couple of students played Wii tennis while the rest watched. We were supposed to alternate between looking at the players, the game, and then the audience. I found it extremely difficult to keep myself focused on the players. Focusing my attention solely on the audience was marginally less difficult.
I may be stating the obvious but I think that our conversation about eye contact and body language and this are linked. It was more difficult for me to pay attention to the players because I was receiving minimal feedback from them. They were focused on the game, so they did not make eye contact and rarely interacted with the audience, or at least me.They also rarely interacted with each other.
The audience was slightly easier because I was a part of it and I could understand their reactions as observers. They were also very expressive, shouting encouragements or laughing with each other. Additionally, I was on the left side of the room so I was face the other side of audience members on the right. The game was the easiest to watch because I could watch the action and their results. The Mii would swing the racket and they would either hit or miss. Another Mii might respond. With the players, they might swing the Wii controller, but if I only focused on them, I would not see the result. It was like listening to half of a telephone conversation.
I think it might be interesting to gauge the level of difficulty concentrating on the players if the set up was different.
While I doubt this will work 100%, I think that it will be much easier to look at the players this way because even if we are not making direct eye contact, there is a false sense of connection by facing them head on. Just an idea.