Body and mind: a study of avatar personalization in three virtual worlds


Ducheneaut, N.; Wen, M.; Yee, N.; Wadley, G. Body and mind: a study of avatar personalization in three virtual worlds. 27th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2009); 2009 April 4-9; Boston, MA.


An increasingly large number of users connect to virtual worlds on a regular basis in order to conduct activities ranging from gaming to business meetings. In all these worlds, users project themselves into the environment via an avatar: a 3D body which they control and whose appearance is often customizable. However, considering the prevalence of this form of embodiment, there is a surprising lack of data about how and why users customize their avatar, as well as how easy and satisfying the existing avatar creation tools are. In this paper, we report on a study investigating these issues through a questionnaire administered to more than a hundred users of three virtual worlds offering widely different avatar creation and customization systems (Maple Story, World of Warcraft, and Second Life). We illustrate the often-surprising choices users make when creating their digital representation and discuss the impact of our findings for the design of future avatar creation systems.

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