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Please keep off the grass: individual norms in virtual worlds

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The 26th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

Human Computer Interaction

12 - 14 September 2012

virtual worlds, social conventions, grass, norms, Second Life, avatar, behaviour

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      Abstract

      This paper looks at how personal conventions are unintentionally carried from the real world into virtual environments. We look at a simple example where we investigate whether avatars will follow virtual paths, or will walk on the grass. By default, people use the paths in real world parks, but we have showed that this behaviour has carried over into virtual parks.We investigated this further, postulating that the more exposure an individual had to virtual worlds the more likely they were to break with this social convention and walk on the grass. We observed the movements of agents in a virtual park on two extended occasions, one in 2010 and the other in 2012. From this we were able to see that people, in general, were still keeping to the paths except when invited to move onto the grass. We also look at the likelihood of individuals using another mode of transport, flying. Finally, we conclude that while some patterns can be seen between the ‘age’ of the avatar and their movements on or off the path, more investigation must be done.

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      The unbearable likeness of being digital: the persistence of nonverbal social norms in online virtual environments.

      Every day, millions of users interact in real-time via avatars in online environments, such as massively-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). These online environments could potentially be unique research platforms for the social sciences and clinical therapy, but it is crucial to first establish that social behavior and norms in virtual environments are comparable to those in the physical world. In an observational study of Second Life, a virtual community, we collected data from avatars in order to explore whether social norms of gender, interpersonal distance (IPD), and eye gaze transfer into virtual environments even though the modality of movement is entirely different (i.e., via keyboard and mouse as opposed to eyes and legs). Our results showed that established findings of IPD and eye gaze transfer into virtual environments: (1) male-male dyads have larger IPDs than female-female dyads, (2) male-male dyads maintain less eye contact than female-female dyads, and (3) decreases in IPD are compensated with gaze avoidance as predicted by the Equilibrium Theory. We discuss implications for users of online games as well as for social scientists who seek to conduct research in virtual environments.
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        Spatial Social Behavior in Second Life

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          Author and article information

          Affiliations
          School of Computer Science

          The University of Birmingham

          Birmingham, B15 2TT

          UK

          www.cs.bham.ac.uk/˜kxs401
          School of Computer Science

          The University of Birmingham

          Birmingham, B15 2TT

          UK

          www.cs.bham.ac.uk/˜rxb
          School of Computer Science

          The University of Birmingham

          Birmingham, B15 2TT

          UK

          www.cs.bham.ac.uk/˜nah
          Contributors
          Conference
          September 2012
          September 2012
          : 375-380
          10.14236/ewic/HCI2012.54
          © Katrina Samperi et al. Published by BCS Learning and Development Ltd. The 26th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction, Birmingham, UK

          This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

          The 26th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction
          HCI
          26
          Birmingham, UK
          12 - 14 September 2012
          Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
          Human Computer Interaction
          Product
          Product Information: 1477-9358 BCS Learning & Development
          Self URI (journal page): https://ewic.bcs.org/
          Categories
          Electronic Workshops in Computing

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