The out-of-avatar experience

Late last night, one of my students, Mew and I attended a research meeting where Grog Waydelich spoke about the use of voice respectively text, and collaborative building in-world.


During the meeting Mew and I chatted (in Danish ;-), and from a teachers point of view this ability to chat simultaneously (while the speaker is on voice) really is a great feature. But what I wanted to point out in this post was Grogs considerations on what he terms “out-of-avatar” experience:

At any moment in SL, a user is either looking through their avatar’s eyes (usually from just behind their avatar’s head) or through the disembodied camera. We called these modes “in-avatar” and “in-camera”. (The latter term reminds us that camera locations are not visible to other users.)

Since I personally prefer looking through my avatars eyes, I hadn’t really payed much attention to this phenomenon, but it adds yet another dimension to the mind/body dichotomy discussion.

In this study Grog and his colleagues at PlayOn found that users in this project spent more time (57%) in-camera than in-avatar, and the more experiences avatars spend 90% of their time in-camera. Most likely it has to do with the fact that this was a building project, where it is necessary to change view regularly, but it is fascinating that the users still identified with their avatars, even when their focus of attention was elsewhere. For further info on this interesting study, have a look here.


4 thoughts on “The out-of-avatar experience

  1. Sus Nyrop November 19, 2008 / 12:06 pm

    This snapshot from the in-avatar view not shoing your face but your back, very representative for just another of those one-to many communication events, in an architecture designed for a didactic setup assuming attention on the Presenter and the Screen view, with often poor and lousy quality power point slides.

    After all, we got legs, wings and navigation skills in SL -and could have the Group Chat window open even while in a conference, exploring in world together.

  2. Mariis Mills November 19, 2008 / 3:30 pm

    I agree that it is interesting how we seem to remediate RL organization in-world .. suspect it is a matter of trying to establish a context we all can agree upon, and thus behave accordingly.
    We did actually have the group chat open and Grog reacted on our written comments and questions both by voice and text, so it actually was somewhat different from the typical on-to-many communication :-)

  3. Sus Nyrop November 20, 2008 / 3:09 pm

    Yes, I agree – as indicated in your own comments about this picture, chat and voice indeed allows us to get into different ways of more participative social learning interactions. What I was reflecting upon spontanoeusly, was just the unfiltered situation as it is exposed on the picture – and, in many cases, such trivial sage-on-the stage sessions DO happen in world

    I actually read your blog post because of a desire to work with my own poor camera skills, as they became embarassing in a building session with others around. To practice on my own, I started to locate and place myself on high spots (such as a building crane, a lighthouse and a mountain top) and then zoom, spin, tilt and pan with the control panel.

    I’n going to read Grog & colleagues’ study about this.

    Let’s meet in world some day soon,
    yours SusNy

  4. Mariis Mills November 20, 2008 / 3:32 pm

    he, he .. I have to admit that my camera skills aren’t impressive either .. perhaps we should join a camera class together ? I think The Photo Institute holds classes regularly ..

    yes, lets meet :-) I’m currently quite busy in-world due to my course, but feel free to IM me .. If I’m occupied I’ll just let you know, and we’ll find another time ..

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