Worlds Apart: Inclusion
benefits and barriers of Virtual
Personae
Rob Pearce
Virtual Persona
“[an avatar is] ‘an interactive, social representation of a
user […] a social creature dancing on the bord...
Inclusion?

Definition: “a relation between two
classes that exists when all members of
the first are also members of the ...
Defining the immersive “X” factor
● Why is Second Life different from other
electronic environments?
● Why is a 2D visuali...
…a continuum that "ranges from the most profoundly physically and
mentally retarded person ... to the most able, highly in...
Autism II
● graphical representations of real people
create a "comfort zone" that can coax
users out of their shells and g...
Inclusion: The Virtual Environment

+

● Not popular with students initially but this
can improve.
● Levels the playing fi...
Inclusion: Communication

+
-

● Great leveller – the loudest voice cannot
dominate plus the virtual buffer allows shy
use...
+
-

Identity: Harmless deception or
● managing post-traumatic stress (Rizzo,
deceptions that harm?
2006) “once-removed” i...
So what can you do?
● Steve Warburton: 6 Barriers to Innovation in MUVE based
teaching
● Set rules for acceptable appearan...
Nihil est… simul et
inventum et perfectum.
(Nothing Is Simultaneously Both Created And Perfected)
..and now a word from our
sponsors…
SL datalinkers feed data from
the EngSC online information
databases in real-time into...
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Stirling uni worlds apart inclusion benefits and barriers of virtual personae

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Virtual worlds, like the physical world, can be enjoyable and awful and a lot of that depends upon the personality of the individuals involved

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Stirling uni worlds apart inclusion benefits and barriers of virtual personae

  1. 1. Worlds Apart: Inclusion benefits and barriers of Virtual Personae Rob Pearce
  2. 2. Virtual Persona “[an avatar is] ‘an interactive, social representation of a user […] a social creature dancing on the border between fiction and fact” [Meadows, M. S, “I, Avatar” 2007]. “[avatars are] in large part the central artefacts through which people build not only social lives but identities.” [Taylor, T. L., Living Digitally, Embodiment in Virtual Worlds in The Social life of Avatars] “…but identity in virtual worlds, with no reliable visual clues and general lack of sensory experience, can be misleading and/or highly ambiguous”. [Peachey 2008]
  3. 3. Inclusion? Definition: “a relation between two classes that exists when all members of the first are also members of the second”
  4. 4. Defining the immersive “X” factor ● Why is Second Life different from other electronic environments? ● Why is a 2D visualisation tool referred to as “3D”? ● Famous example: Virtual hallucinations (Yellowlees 2007) a virtual environment to replicate the experiences and world of a schizophrenia sufferer
  5. 5. …a continuum that "ranges from the most profoundly physically and mentally retarded person ... to the most able, highly intelligent person with social impairment in its subtlest form as his only disability. It overlaps with learning disabilities and shades into eccentric normality." - Lorna Wing
  6. 6. Autism II ● graphical representations of real people create a "comfort zone" that can coax users out of their shells and get them communicating with others. Simon Bignell (Milton Broome) Derby University psychology.derby.ac. uk/~simon/staff/simon_bignell. html
  7. 7. Inclusion: The Virtual Environment + ● Not popular with students initially but this can improve. ● Levels the playing field for disabled people. Allows safe social skills rehearsal. A chance to observe an isolated aspect of communication in order to understand a second language. - ● Overseas students unfamiliar with cultural differences (Bignell 2007). ● Inherent playfulness of SL can be disconcerting and confusing. (Warburton
  8. 8. Inclusion: Communication + - ● Great leveller – the loudest voice cannot dominate plus the virtual buffer allows shy users to shine. ● Physical intimidation & long monologs are not of complex linguistic & social-behavioural an option! Lack processing makes communication less effective than in the real world but could make it easier for those chat” autistic spectrum. ● “Texton thehas its own language; familiarity & typing speed is a factor. ● Dominating personalities can feel lost. ● Lack of non-verbal cues makes it difficult to
  9. 9. + - Identity: Harmless deception or ● managing post-traumatic stress (Rizzo, deceptions that harm? 2006) “once-removed” identity helps in confronting past experiences. ● “Digital reputation” (Warburton 2008) “Proteus effect” (Yee and Bailenson, 2007). suggests that participants develop or emphasise certain characteristics dependent upon the appearance of their avatar. ● Gender/age/race/profession/religion/time/a ppearance/motivation/sexuality/disability ambiguities.
  10. 10. So what can you do? ● Steve Warburton: 6 Barriers to Innovation in MUVE based teaching ● Set rules for acceptable appearance. ● Don’t mislead - individuals construct new knowledge from their experiences and where group interaction is key it must be authentic. ● Consider ethical arguments/clearance when employing “nonreal” scenarios. ● Identity and communication ambiguities mean events in SL need to be more tightly managed than the playfulness of the medium would suggest. ● Choose activities that take advantage of the virtual–real buffer ● “You cant please all of the people all of the time…” don’t use virtual worlds exclusively – blend learning!
  11. 11. Nihil est… simul et inventum et perfectum. (Nothing Is Simultaneously Both Created And Perfected)
  12. 12. ..and now a word from our sponsors… SL datalinkers feed data from the EngSC online information databases in real-time into Second Life. Using electronic voting systems to support student learning in engineering. Nov 12th, 2-3pm (GMT) http://tiny.cc/onlineevssem

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