Understanding Emerging Design Practices for Avatar Systems in the Commercial Social VR Ecology

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PubDate: June 2019

Teams: University of California

Writers: Anya Kolesnichenko;Joshua McVeigh-Schultz;Katherine Isbister

PDF: Understanding Emerging Design Practices for Avatar Systems in the Commercial Social VR Ecology

Abstract

In the emerging ecology of commercial social VR, avatars that serve to represent individuals within these multi-user virtual worlds are at the heart of the embodied social experience. Current industry approaches to avatars in social VR applications vary widely, and the (sometimes tacit) design knowledge acquired by those who created these platforms has much to offer research in HCI. In this paper, we describe current design practices, and reflect on the design approaches that characterize avatars and avatar systems in this emerging commercial sector. To investigate design approaches to avatar systems and their impact on communication and interaction with people within this medium, we interviewed industry experts associated with a range of platforms including Rec Room, AltspaceVR, High Fidelity, VRChat, Anyland, and Mozilla Hubs. In analyzing the ways that design choices shape embodied experience, we map design approaches to avatar systems in this evolving landscape and make preliminary claims about the impact of these varying design approaches.

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