Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Your Avatar

According to Wikipedia, an avatar (usually translated from Sanskrit as incarnation) is the graphical representation of the user or the user’s alter ego or character. It may take a three-dimensional form as in games or virtual worlds ... Studies at the University of Michigan showed that when people create and modify their virtual reality avatars, the hardships faced by their alter egos can influence how they perceive virtual environments. For example, Sangseok You, a doctoral student in the school of information at the University of Michigan, reported that participants who saw that a backpack was attached to an avatar that they had created overestimated the heights of virtual hills, just as people in real life tend to overestimate heights and distances while carrying extra weight. “You exert more of your agency through an avatar when you design it yourself," said S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, Penn State, who worked with You. "Your identity mixes in with the identity of that avatar and, as a result, your visual perception of the virtual environment is colored by the physical resources of your avatar." The study may help trainers and game developers design virtual reality exercises and games that are more realistic and more immersive¾because "You are your avatar when it is customized."

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