Infoscience

Conference paper

How to explore the "spatialities" of avatars in a virtual world? Example of the project Magic Ring in Second Life

This chapter presents a project developed in a study about the narrative dimension of the immersion process in the virtual world of Second Life. This digital universe is not usual because users can build the digital environment themselves, that means that they design and shape the Second Life’s space. In order to understand the impact of the space on the avatars behaviour, I developed a tracking tool, called the ‘Magic Ring,’ which collects millions of ‘quali-quantitative’ data. This name means that they are very accurate data in big quantity (millions of data), which allow the researcher to choose between a qualitative approach or a quantitative one. This chapter focuses on project genesis to explain how the idea to develop a tracker came to us. Firstly, I present Second Life by emphasising the possibility for the user to build the three dimensional world. Secondly, I deliver contextualised overview of our immersion study, especially about the narrative dimension of this process. I explain I used the concept of ‘spatiality,’ and I define it, to understand the link between the shape of the space and the avatars behaviour in the virtual world. I also present the limitations encountered in this study and the need to develop an appropriate method to solve our problematic. Before explaining how the Magic Ring works, I describe two others projects that have inspired it. Finally, I briefly evoke some results, explaining that avatars often return to the same places, identified as ‘hotspots,’ and I discuss the theoretical possibilities a device like the Magic Ring and quali-quantitative data open.

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