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Supporting visual elements of non-verbal communication in computer game avatars.

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Communication between players in networked computer games is often inadequately implemented. The games do not exploit the full potential of using different forms of communication possibilities between players, and therefore result in problems in sending and receiving messages. This paper introduces a model that describes how visual aspects of non-verbal communication (NVC) in avatars could be systematically designed. The model can be used as a guideline in the design process of more communicative avatars. The study was conducted using a variety of research methods. The topic has been approached from both the constructive and theoretic-conceptual viewpoints. Non- verbal communication theories have been used as the framework to construct avatars for game environments and to form a model that supports the design of NVC elements into avatars. The primary result of the work is a model that describes how to design more communicative avatars. The model introduces the aspects required when considering the designing of the visual elements of NVC. As an empirical result, the avatars based on the model determine how different elements of NVC work, and how NVC could be used in the avatar context. The results can be applied for design and construction purposes, as well as for further research into the diverse areas of avatar design. The model describes three layers that can be used to guide the work of avatar designers and creators in supporting the visual elements of communication in computer game avatars. The model shows that designers and creators should search for the required elements of the NVC, vary these elements to form a rich set of ways to use them, and finally, personalise the avatars by selecting varied elements for separate avatars to support natural communication.
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Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
1
Supporting Visual Elements of Non-
Verbal Communication in Computer
Game Avatars
Tomi Kujanpää
Department of Information
Processing Science
University of Oulu, Finland
PO Box 3000,
90014 Oulun Yliopisto
Tomi.Kujanpaa@oulu.fi
Tony Manninen
Department of Information
Processing Science
University of Oulu, Finland
PO Box 3000,
90014 Oulun Yliopisto
Tony.Manninen@oulu.fi
ABSTRACT
Communication between players in networked computer games is often inadequately
implemented. The games do not exploit the full potential of using different forms of
communication possibilities between players, and therefore result in problems in
sending and receiving messages. This paper introduces a model that describes how
visual aspects of non-verbal communication (NVC) in avatars could be systematically
designed. The model can be used as a guideline in the design process of more
communicative avatars.
The study was conducted using a variety of research methods. The topic has been
approached from both the constructive and theoretic-conceptual viewpoints. Non-
verbal communication theories have been used as the framework to construct avatars
for game environments and to form a model that supports the design of NVC elements
into avatars.
The primary result of the work is a model that describes how to design more
communicative avatars. The model introduces the aspects required when considering
the designing of the visual elements of NVC. As an empirical result, the avatars based
on the model determine how different elements of NVC work, and how NVC could be
used in the avatar context. The results can be applied for design and construction
purposes, as well as for further research into the diverse areas of avatar design.
The model describes three layers that can be used to guide the work of avatar designers
and creators in supporting the visual elements of communication in computer game
avatars. The model shows that designers and creators should search for the required
elements of the NVC, vary these elements to form a rich set of ways to use them, and
finally, personalise the avatars by selecting varied elements for separate avatars to
support natural communication.
Keywords
Non-verbal communication, avatar, avatar design, computer game, multi-player.
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
2
INTRODUCTION
Computer games have developed considerably from their early days. Games have
become more impressive in their visual, aural and technical aspects. The popularity of
computer games has also greatly increased. These steps have brought modern multi-
player games to the level that makes it possible to model more detailed avatars. This, in
turn, provides new possibilities for communication between the players.
Generally, if players share the same physical space, they can yell and give visual signals
at the top of their computer screens to convey messages to other players. However, if
players are geographically separated, this is not possible. Most multi-player on-line
games can convey basic information as to whether a player is crouching, running, or
shooting. Still, the tools used to convey messages, such as expressions and gestures,
have remained rather minimal. Some pre-recorded animation sequences and modifiable
clothing have been introduced, but still the area of NVC in games is not yet even close
to the potential it could achieve.
This research aims to provide tools for the design of visual NVC elements in
communication between players. With NVC elements employed, players would be able
to express themselves and to communicate more freely in different situations. In other
words, players would gain a richer set of communication tools. NVC theories and
results obtained from different research cases are used as the theoretical framework in
this research. The intention was to examine how players can express NVC elements
through their avatars. From this basis, a model describing the different aspects of
designing NVC elements for avatars is introduced.
NVC is a wide and diverse topic, and consists of a variety of elements. It would,
therefore, be an impossible task to include an exhaustive description of how all NVC
elements could be supported. Consequently, only three elements have been chosen for
closer discussion. These elements could be described as the visual elements of NVC,
and correspond to facial expressions, kinesics and physical appearance. Movement of
the eyes and the patterns of gaze are also visual elements, but are excluded from this
discussion due to the limitations of the used experimental technology.
This research is primarily constructive in the sense that the avatar constructions and the
model were built. As a result, the constructive research method was used. When
creating the model, however, also the theoretic-conceptual method was employed. This
was done in a manner in which information was generalised from different research
cases as well as from the empirical material.
NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
Human communication can roughly be divided into verbal communication and non-
verbal communication. Verbal communication includes all the verbal aspects of
communication, such as words and phrases. NVC, on the other hand, includes aspects
such as gestures, movements of the head and body, posture, facial expressions,
direction of gaze, proximity and spatial behaviour, bodily contact, orientation, tone and
pitch of voice, clothing, and adornment of the body [2]. NVC is involved in most
human contact. It may reveal the true nature of emotions, provide hints on personality
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
3
and work as a channel to send and receive information. NVC emerges in a variety of
ways, some of which may not be even consciously thought of [2].
Figure 1 describes the satellite model of the different forms of NVC elements. This
model was originally constructed to analyse the elements of NVC in avatars [14].
Classifications of several authors in the social sciences and communication literature
have been used in the construction of the model. The aim has been to get as exhaustive
a set of NVC elements as possible.
Figure 1: Different elements (forms) of non-verbal communication [14].
The satellite model illustrates the magnitude of different elements in NVC. As
previously mentioned, only physical appearance, kinesics and facial expressions have
been closely studied in this research. Therefore, only they are shortly described here.
Physical appearance is concerned with the forms of decoration, such as clothes and
other adornment, that are entirely under the control of the wearer. It also concerns
aspects partly controlled by the person in question, such as physique, hair and skin. [2]
Many of these elements provide information on the personality, status, group
membership and interpersonal attitude of the sender ([2]; [9]).
Kinesics includes all bodily movement except physical contact. It includes gestures,
head nods, posture and movements of other parts of the body [2]. Gestures are
different kinds of movements of the limbs, such as, nodding of the head or shaking of
the fist. Posture is associated with an activity that is being pursued [2]. It is the state of
the body in action, such as watching something intently, being puzzled, or leaning
against a wall.
N
ON
-V
ERBAL
C
OMMUNICATION
F
ORMS
OLFACTICS
OCCULESICS
PARALANGUAGE
Non-verbal aspects
of speech
HAPTICS
Physical
Contact
CHRONEMICS
SPATIAL
BEHAVIOUR
PHYSICAL
APPEARANCE
KINESICS
ENVIRONMENTAL
DETAILS
Bodily
Contact
FACIAL
EXPRESSIONS
Orientation
Posture
Gestures
Body
Movement
Prosodic
Paradigmatic
Eye Movement
& Contact
Visual
Orientation
Gaze Direction
Gaze Duration
Gaze Focus
Artifacts
Scents
Odours
Clothes
Eyebrow
position
Eye
Shape
Mouth
Shape
Nostril
Size
Positions
Distance
Proximity
Eye
Contact
Skin
Tempo
Voice
quality
Pitch
Loudness
Disturbances
Timing
Pitch
Loudness
Face &
Skin
Hair
Physique
Adornment
Physical
setting
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
4
Facial expressions are a very expressive element of NVC. Argyle [2] claims that it is
the most important area of non-verbal signalling because of the magnitude of the
information transmitted. Facial expressions may be seen to be determined from the
position of the eyebrows, the shape of the eyes and the mouth and from the size of the
nostril [2].
NVC AND AVATARS
Early versions of avatars have been rather rigid and lacking in emotion [19]. The use of
NVC elements is a solution that has been introduced both to create avatars more alive
and to support the natural communication between the users. Allbeck & Badler [1]
argue that, when actions and communications are the triggers to understand avatars,
they should be implemented in a human-like manner.
Human NVC has been studied in the social sciences' field of Psychology and
Communication. Researchers such as Argyle [2], Burgoon and Ruffner [6] and Fiske [9]
have established the base of the different NVC elements. Several theories have been
postulated to describe the different areas of NVC and to establish an understanding of
non-verbal behaviour ([2]; [6]).
One way to support natural-looking NVC has been developed in the field of traditional
animation. Animators have studied motion and developed animation to its present state
[11]. The gestures, postures and facial expressions of contemporary animated characters
are very natural, and the animated characters display emotions and movements that
seem realistic. The techniques that were developed by the animators have brought the
characters to life. The animated characters have, thus, been given unique personalities,
and they have given the audience the feeling of being alive ([11]; [15]). Traditional
animation is based on eleven fundamentals that were not tied to a particular medium
and could, therefore, also be used in 3D computer animation [11].
Avatars have also been studied in different fields. The area of computer graphics and
interactive techniques has studied the different aspects of avatars. Research has been
conducted, for example, on the simulation of virtual humans. One of the goals has
been the creation of virtual humans who look, move and behave as similarly as possible
to human beings [13]. Agents, and especially autonomous agents, research has been
interested in creating virtual, human-like agents that can communicate with each other
and with human participants ([7]; [1]). Collaborative Virtual Environment (CVE)
research has also included aspects where avatars have been studied in the context of
NVC. The various studies on avatars (embodiments) are related to issues such as
channelling information on the environment and the avatars to the users [4].
In the area of computer game research, and in the related literature, different kinds of
design guides have been introduced to explain how games could be designed. These
design guides also point out different aspects concerning the design of an avatar ([16];
[17]). The design guides, however, mainly concern aspects such as the avatars'
appearance and their characteristics. They do not try to explain how NVC could be
designed in the avatars.
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
5
As a result of the research conducted in these diverse areas, the NVC of the avatars can
be constructed relatively well. The possibilities for the avatar’s facial expressions have
been well studied and natural expressions can be created. These expressions can be
modelled both artificially as well as by generating them from a real human face ([5];
[12]). Kinesics - probably being the most utilised part of NVC in human-like computer
game avatars - has accordingly been well studied. The tools and methods to model the
natural-looking movement of the avatar's body and different limbs already exist ([10];
[3]). In addition, the physical appearance of avatars has also been studied extensively.
All aspects of physical appearance, such as physique, clothing and equipment, can be
modelled relatively well. The human body can be modelled with varying levels of
precision, and muscles can be attached to it to create natural-looking movement [8].
Although avatars' NVC can be modelled and animated to seem natural and realistic,
problems still occur. Virtual environments have some characteristics that complicate
the implementation and use of the NVC elements. These are, for example, the size of
the avatars and the field of view (FOV) [18]. These characteristics set demands for the
implementation of NVC elements. For example, gestures conveyed by hands may not
be noticed by others as the avatar may be too close to the camera. Or, contradictory
facial expressions may not be seen as the avatar may be too far away from the camera.
The use of certain solutions may also cause problems. This is the case, for example,
when tracking the user’s face for facial expressions in real-time. The user's body often
resides in a totally different space than the one in which the avatars appear. This may
cause the expressions to be affected by other aspects than the stimuli coming from the
virtual environment itself [19]. As a result, unwanted or distracting cues may occur.
Even though these characteristics may prevent the use of NVC in exactly the same
manner as it is used in real life, they do not prevent the use of NVC elements [18].
CONSTRUCTED AVATARS
In order to be able to construct a model, information on avatars' NVC was required.
Existing research cases provided a useful source of information, but a more practical
and empirical viewpoint was also desired. For this reason, different avatars were
constructed. The avatars were constructed for two environments, both of which
offered players a game setting. In both of the games, players also had the possibility to
participate in the action outside of the designed game. The first game environment was
called Tuppi3D and the second was named Virtual Live Action Role-Play (V-
LARP). Figure 2 illustrates a few examples of the avatars in the game settings.
The avatars were constructed with the intention to implement as many NVC elements
as possible, in order to establish if they would influence the game and the
communication between the players. Design and implementation of different NVC
elements were conducted using the cyclic development technique. After adding an
element to an avatar, it was tested in the game environment. Depending on the results
of the test, it was then either accepted, changed or removed. This was done in order to
obtain evaluated information for the construction of the final model. Most of the
emphasis was on implementing different ways to support the elements of kinesics,
facial expressions and physical appearance. However, instances of other elements were
also present.
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
6
Figure 2: Facial expressions: laughing, blushing, and lifting an eyebrow and some of the
kinesics implemented on avatars.
Avatars were used both to provide information for the construction of the model
presented in this paper and as a means to evaluate the model. Varying sets of elements
were implemented to the different avatars, in order to differentiate them from each
other. In order to obtain information on how the NVC elements work, avatars were
tested in the game setting. Small user tests were conducted to find out whether NVC
elements were used during the game play. In addition to this, more detailed information
was obtained from thorough video analyses. The cyclic development technique, the
user tests and the video analyses provided a good base for information gathering and
evaluation of the model.
THREE-LAYERED DESIGN MODEL
The constructed avatars and the studied research cases gave reason to believe that by
taking certain issues into consideration, more communicative avatars could be
constructed. It was noticed that adding different elements of NVC to a game
environment resulted in players having increased opportunities of conveying and
receiving messages. Another point that quickly became clear was that by varying these
elements, even richer and more subtle messages could be sent and received. This is the
primary reason why a model to guide the design of avatars NVC was constructed.
Figure 3 illustrates the model, which can be used to support the design of more
communicative computer game avatars. The model consists of three layers, which
correspond to elements of NVC, varying the elements, and personalisation. The design
process begins at the bottom layer of the upside-down pyramid from where it proceeds
in the upward direction. The issues concerning the design process and the meaning of
the layers are discussed in more detail in the following sections.
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
7
Figure 3: Three-layered design model
Elements of Non-Verbal Communication
The elements of NVC form the first layer of the model. The elements of NVC refer to
the different elements of NVC, such as waving a hand or smiling. On this first level of
the model, different elements of NVC are chosen. This means that the designer has to
decide what kind of basic requirements the game and the players state for the avatars'
NVC. When compared with the satellite model, this means that the different elements
are first chosen from the highest level and then from the deeper levels of the satellite
model. Figure 4 illustrates the three-layered model and its relationship to the satellite
model.
Figure 4: Elements of non-verbal communication in the created model and in the
satellite model.
To provide a clearer picture of what the first layer means, a hypothetical situation is
described. When avatar designers are starting their job on the avatars' NVC, they would
first need to examine the different NVC element groups, such as physical appearance,
kinesics, and facial expressions. These groups can be used as guidelines to aid in
deciding which elements could be used. Designers should give a lot of thought to this
level, as it builds the avatars' basic set of NVC elements. The design can be started
from the general level, from which it can proceed to the more detailed levels. Designers
could begin the process by brainstorming as to which kind of kinesics would support
the avatars' NVC in this particular game. In other words, they could concentrate on the
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
8
kinds of movements and gestures players need to see and control. They should, for
example, consider whether having the possibility to wave a hand, crouch or stare would
enable positive communication results between the players.
All the three visual NVC elements can be first divided into sub-elements and then into
the different elements of these sub-elements. The sub-elements of kinesics are, for
example, waving, pointing or shaking a fist. Accordingly, the sub-elements of facial
expressions are, for example, smiling or raising an eyebrow. Finally, the sub-elements of
physical appearance would be the shape of the body or the type of clothing used by an
avatar. With each element, one has to take into consideration whether the element in
question could support the communication between the players and whether it is
essential for the game.
Varying the Elements
The second layer of the created model is built by varying the elements. In other words,
this means the different ways that can be used to express the elements chosen in the
first layer. At this stage, the different parameters that can shape the element should be
considered. An example of this could be speed and trajectory of the hand to obtain
different ways to use the "wave" element. Compared with the satellite model, this
means that the instances of each chosen element are multiplied. Figure 5 illustrates the
second layer of the constructed model and how it affects the elements chosen from the
satellite model.
Figure 5: Varying the elements in the created model and its equivalent in the satellite
model.
To illustrate the variation of the NVC element, the hypothetical situation started in the
last section is now continued. When the animator has selected the NVC element to be
used in the avatars, the NVC element needs to be varied in order to create natural-
looking actions among the avatars. Different variations can be considered on the basis
of the different parameters that alter the instance of an element. These parameters can,
for example, be the speed of movement, the trajectory of movement, or the angle
between various body parts. These parameters need to be recognised and then
modified. For example, if the 'wave' element is chosen, the next stage is to consider the
different kinds of 'waves' that can be produced by altering the different parameters such
as the speed and trajectory of the arm and hand. Occasionally it may also be beneficial
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
9
to think in terms of emotional movements. A wave of the hand could be varied to be
an angry wave, a happy wave and so on. However, in the end, this variation results in
changes in the parameters that shape the movement of the hand, such as speed and
trajectories. Another example can be illustrated using facial expressions: if an element is
a smile, the mouth could then be varied to result in different nuances, such as a happy
smile or a mysterious smile. Also, when considering the physical appearance, aspects
such as choice of different kinds of clothing can be considered, or it may simply be the
case of creating avatars with different-shaped bodies. Finally, when all the elements
have been varied, the animator will have a versatile set of elements that can be
implemented into the avatars.
Personalisation
Personalisation forms the third layer of the created model. Personalisation means that
avatars have a unique way of communicating using the visual aspects of NVC. When
compared with the satellite model, this means that, after varying an element, a certain
number of variations could be chosen for use with an avatar. For example, when it is
possible to wave a hand in ten different ways, some of these ways could be
implemented to Avatar A and some to Avatar B. Different avatars could have partly the
same elements but not exactly the same ones. This could be used to ensure that the
communication between the players is natural. Figure 6 describes the third layer of the
created model and how it can be seen alongside the satellite model.
Figure 6: Personalisation in the created model and its equivalent in the satellite model.
An example of personalisation is provided to complete the hypothetical situation. After
the animator has obtained a versatile set of elements to be used in the avatars, it is time
to implement them. On this layer in the model, the animator has to decide the kind of
elements to be put together. The created set of elements works as a library of
expressions and movements from which natural and communicative avatars should be
constructed. Different instances of certain elements need to be implemented to
different avatars. The basic rule for personalisation is to create groups of instances in a
manner in which separate groups are not too similar to each other. It should also be
remembered that instances in one group create the visual outlook and personality of
one avatar’s NVC. Therefore, the instances should be designed in a manner in which
the player can use them naturally and intuitively for communication with other players.
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
10
Evaluation of the Model
The created model has evolved based on the constructions and the NVC theories. The
avatar constructions were designed for game environments, with the cyclic
developmental process of the NVC elements. Video analyses and small-scale user tests
were used to gather the data from constructions. The created constructions illustrated
the existence of the NVC elements. The constructed avatars had either the same
amount or a higher amount of visual aspects of NVC in real-time as most of the cut
scenes presented in computer games. The first two layers of the model have a solid
base in both the literature as well as in the results of the constructions. It has been
verified that the first two layers do, in fact, result in richer and more natural
communication forms, even with a low level of support.
The third layer, which emphasises the personalisation of the NVC elements, can also be
justified from the literature as well as from the results of the constructions, as it was
possible to show that it did, in fact, result in creating the avatar to be more
distinguishable and recognisable. It also prevents exactly similar actions from appearing
simultaneously in different avatars. However, some further research is still needed to
determine to what extent the different elements should be personalised for the avatars.
The personalisation of the avatars' NVC elements was, however, found to be important
in creating consistent and distinguishable avatars.
When considering how the model presented fits into the actual design process, a few
points are need to be scrutinised. The created model does not show the designer how
to implement the work. It does not suggest using certain solutions for certain kinds of
problems. This aspect may be considered as a weakness of the model. The nature of the
model is more general. It attempts to provide the designer with the tools that guide the
process along a certain path. The model indicates the issues that the designer should
consider. During the research, it was noticed that the approach presented in the model
is capable of pointing out aspects to be consider when designing support for the
avatars' NVC. Therefore, it can be said that the constructed model can be applied to
the design of more communicative multi-player game avatars.
DISCUSSION
The presented model offers a tool for designing NVC for avatars. Few aspects about
the model and the design process should, however, be considered. The NVC model is
based on the non-verbal behaviour of real human beings, which takes things, such as
the body and the sense of touch, for granted. Virtual environments, on the other hand,
have their own special features and limitations. The responsibility of taking these into
consideration is left to the designer. The nature of the game also has a crucial part to
play. The question on what should be implemented is also left to the designer to decide.
It should be noted that all multi-player games are not built around the need for
communication. In some games, it may be sufficient to be able to see the avatar of
another person. Some games, in contrast, could benefit from the possibility to
communicate with the full repertoire of NVC elements.
When comparing the constructed avatars to avatars in computer games, it must be
noted that communication between players in networked multi-player games is often
not supported to the extent that it could be. Messages, in some instances, can be sent
Kujanpää T & Manninen T. (2003) Supporting Visual Elements of Non-Verbal Communication in
Computer Game Avatars. In Proceedings of Level Up - Digital Games Research Conference. Copier
M., and Raessens J. (eds), Universiteit Utrecht, pp. 220-233
11
and received, but only a few elements of NVC are usually supported. Most currently
available new games have begun to have more elements of NVC implemented into
them. Elements such as changing of clothes, transformation of the body and facial
expressions have been appearing increasingly. However, NVC elements are often used
mainly for decorative purposes. Avatars may gesture and convey facial expressions but
often the player has only little control over them. When using the model it should be
remembered that NVC should be designed not only to be visible but also to be usable
by the players. In this way, the communication possibilities between the players can be
enriched and the NVC of the avatars supported.
CONCLUSIONS
This research project introduced a three-layer model to construct visual aspects of
NVC for avatars in multi-player computer games. Using the model in the design
process of avatars can result in players having an enriched communication possibility
when interacting amongst themselves. Players could have more opportunties to express
their desires, and it would also permit communication of subtler and more versatile
messages. The use of the model can also result in making the avatars more
distinguishable, recognisable and natural in the use of NVC.
The created model was used to support the visual aspects of NVC and, therefore, does
not take all NVC elements presented in the satellite model into consideration. Some
similarities may be found in the other elements used in this model but the model was
not tested on those elements. The satellite model is also not used to consider all the
characteristics of virtual bodies but is geared mainly for human-based NVC. The
satellite model can, however, be used to support human-like NVC, which is of great use
to support the weak areas of communication in computer game environments.
The results of this research are significant for designers of avatars for multi-player
computer games, as they illustrate the possibilities of the visual aspects of NVC in
improving avatars. For the same reason, designers of different types of virtual
environments can also benefit from the results obtained.
Further research is, however, required to determine how the model fits in with the
design process of avatars. The model should also be tested in the design process to find
out whether its layers are valid and utilisable. The third layer of the model was found to
be important in making the avatars using NVC elements more distinguishable, but
further research is required to determine to what extent the different elements should
be personalised in the avatars. The NVC elements characteristic to virtual environments
should be studied to find out natural ways of supporting NVC in avatars. The players
are not able to control all the different aspects of NVC simultaneously when playing
the game and, therefore, research should also be conducted to create methods that
would support the players' control and use of the NVC elements.
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... On the other hand this approach is approached from non-verbal communication and avatar design (e.g. Argyle 1988, Benford et al. 1997, Cassell and Vilhjálmsson 1999, Thalmann 1999, Kujanpää and Manninen 2003. Furthermore, the paper utilises different computer game character studies such as character appeal (Tosca 2003), character background (Lankoski et al. 2003, Smith 1999, and socialisation issues (Ducheneaut andMoore 2004, Jakobsson andTaylor 2003) to point out aspects considered important in the multiplayer character design. ...
... The designed aspects can be such as physical form, clothing, movement style, and so on (Gard 2000, Meretzky 2001) that clearly relate to the elements studied in non-verbal communication. Even though characters may not have as detailed non-verbal signalling system as humans, they are capable of presenting detailed non-verbal information (Kujanpää and Manninen 2003). Therefore, by drawing upon the results presented in the studies of behavioural and communication sciences, it is quite safe to say that players interpret observable aspects of their characters. ...
... He has formed a model that consists of 12 main categories for interaction elements namely: (1) avatar appearance, (2) facial expressions, (3) kinesics, (4) occulesics, (5) autonomous / AI, (6) non-verbal audio, (7) language-based communication, (8) spatial behavior, (9) physical contact, (10) environmental details, (11) chronemics and (12) olfactics. Kujanpää and Manninen (2003) have further applied this approach to character design. The approach is heavily based on representation of human behaviour and communication. ...
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Computer game characters offer a great amount of possibilities for game design. In current multiplayer games characters are, however, not designed to utilise all the aspects they offer. Characters of multiplayer games also challenge some of the traditional character design approaches. Most of the characters in multiplayer games are controlled by the players which is not the case in single player games. This paper looks into the design of characters for multiplayer games from the point of view of interpretation and interaction. Some light is shed on how these characters are interpreted by the players. Furthermore, the visible interaction manifestations are considered as a basis for character design. The paper relies both on theoretical framework formed from game and character design literature and empirical results gained from design and testing of experimental multiplayer role-playing game 'Castle of Oulu'.
... Prior work has investigated cooperation in game play. Much of this is centered around the design of cooperative game mechanics [2,15,31,34], the verbal practices of teams [33], or how people play in co-located settings [5]. Communication channels and awareness cues are critical to keep players engaged in game play in a challenging teamwork environment while maintaining situation awareness. ...
... Importantly, Chuang et al. [5] found that co-located players collaborate not only through explicit communication channels but also an implicit awareness of each other; this can be likened to the work of high-performance teams. One key communication channel they and Tomi and Tony [34] identify are "virtual gestures": players use avatar movement to send information to partner(s). This research suggests the importance of investigating other potential communication channels that are unique to games. ...
... Zutshi et al. [39] identify key features of virtual environments, some of which are relevant to cooperative play: user presentation (e.g. using avatar to present the player), gesture (e.g. avatar gestures [5,34]), and communication (e.g. voice or text chat). ...
Conference Paper
A rich element of cooperative games are mechanics that communicate. Unlike automated awareness cues and synchronous verbal communication, cooperative communication mechanics enable players to share information and direct action by engaging with game systems. These include both explicitly communicative mechanics, such as built-in pings that direct teammates' attention to specific locations, and emergent communicative mechanics, where players develop their own conventions about the meaning of in-game activities, like jumping to get attention. We use a grounded theory approach with 40 digital games to identify and classify the types of cooperative communication mechanics game designers might use to enable cooperative play. We provide details on the classification scheme and offer a discussion on the implications of cooperative communication mechanics.
... Most virtual worlds are capable of supporting all four of Samovar and Porter (1991)'s forms of nonverbal communication, as well as an additional category, appearance, added by Kujanpää and Manninen (2003). Kinesics (body language) is realized through animations with particular emphasis on facial animations (Kujanpää & Manninen, 2003). ...
... Most virtual worlds are capable of supporting all four of Samovar and Porter (1991)'s forms of nonverbal communication, as well as an additional category, appearance, added by Kujanpää and Manninen (2003). Kinesics (body language) is realized through animations with particular emphasis on facial animations (Kujanpää & Manninen, 2003). Proxemics (use of space) can change from moment-to-moment based on an individual avatars' placement in space but can also be statically xed for objects such as furniture or buildings. ...
Chapter
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When Mohawk artist Skawennati Fragnito began working on her machinima1 series TimeTraveller™2, she and members of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC)3 were faced with the need for numerous nonverbal communication animations for use with their avatars in the virtual world Second Life4. The ability of users to create custom animations in Second Life has resulted in the availability of thousands of purchasable and free animations, but Fragnito and her team had a difficult time finding existing animations that were appropriate for First Nations representation within the context of the TimeTraveller™ series. After a series of exhaustive searches through thousands of built-in and user-made animations proved fruitless, Fragnito and her AbTeC team created for themselves a number of specialized animations for nonverbal communication. These animations have characteristics that may inform the design of avatar animations in future virtual worlds. In TimeTraveller™, Hunter—an angry young Mohawk man living in the 22nd century—embarks on a vision quest using the TimeTraveller™ device that takes him back in time to historical conflicts that have involved First Nations. Creating the machinima episodes required nonverbal communication animations that were (1) culturally appropriate for First Nations avatars, (2) representative of Fragnito’s visual style, and (3) useful as components of cinematic compositions. In order to address culturally appropriate nonverbal communication, AbTeC made a suite of nonverbal communication gestures based on the personal experiences of Fragnito and other First Nations members of the team. For example, in many First Nations cultures, an upward nod signifies a subtle acknowledgement of presence from one person to another. This, and several other culturally related animations required for the telling Hunter’s story, simply did not exist in Second Life, least of all at the number of user-owned shops selling culturally appropriated “Native American” items such as clothing and accessories. Secondly, when certain nonverbal communication animations did exist, they were often too performative and dramatic to fit Fragnito’s directorial style. She required animations that were subtle and realistic, so the AbTeC team learned how to perform the necessary customizations. For example, a scene in TimeTraveller™ required a mouth-to-cheek kiss, but Second Life only offered (albeit thousands of) mouth-to-mouth kiss animations. Lastly, since TimeTraveller™ is a machinima, it required animations that were detailed enough to film well in close-ups but expansive enough to be visible and intelligible in wider shots and while the camera was moving. Second Life’s existing animations were also often too choppy to meet cinematic standards, which prompted AbTeC to make animations to the smoothness necessary for specific scenes. This paper will describe the motivation behind, design process for and results of various nonverbal communication animations created by AbTeC in Second Life for TimeTraveller™. The work under discussion is ongoing since Fragnito is in development of Episode 05 of a projected ten episode series. However, the results thus far offer virtual world developers and researchers strong insight into crafting animations for nonverbal communication that are culturally diverse and/or useful for enabling users to make visually rich and dramatically compelling machinima. 1. Machinima: Films shot using game or virtual world engines. 2. TimeTraveller™ : http://www.timetravellertm.com 3. Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC): A research network based out of Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec that is made of academics, artists, and technologists whose goal is to define and share conceptual and practical tools that will allow us to create new, Aboriginally-determined territories within spaces such as online games and virtual environments. http://www.abtec.org 4. Second Life: A free 3D virtual world in which users have individual avatars.
... of avatars. Kujanpää and Manninen (2003) share a similar idea as that of Rinman et. al. with a focus more on the visual elements of the game avatars. ...
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This study attempts to construct a communication framework of video game avatars. Employing Aarseth's textonomy, Rehak's avatar's life cycle, and Lury's prosthetic culture avatar's theories as the basis of analysis on fifty-five purposively selected games, this study proposes ACTION (Avatars, Communicators, Transmissions, Instruments, Orientations and Navigations). Avatars, borrowing Aarseth's terms, are classifiable into interpretive, explorative, configurative, and textonic with four systems and sub classifications for each type. Communicators, referring to the participants involved in the communication with the avatars and their relationship, are classifiable into unipolar, bipolar, tripolar, quadripolar, and pentapolar. Transmissions, the ways in which communication is transmitted, are classifiable into restrictive verbal and restrictive non-verbal. Instruments, the graphical embodiment of communications, are realized into dialogue boxes, non-dialogue boxes, logs, expressions, movements and emoticons. Orientations, the methods the game spatiality employs to direct the movement of the avatars, are classifiable into dictative and non-dictative. Navigations, the strategies avatars perform regarding with the information saving system of the games, are classifiable into experimental and non-experimental. Departing from this ACTION, analysts are able to employ this formula as an approach to reveal how the avatars utilize their own 'linguistics' to communicate, out of the linguistics benefited by humans.
... of avatars. Kujanpää and Manninen (2003) share a similar idea as that of Rinman et. al. with a focus more on the visual elements of the game avatars. ...
Article
This study attempts to construct a communication framework of video game avatars. Employing Aarseth's textonomy, Rehak's avatar's life cycle, and Lury's prosthetic culture avatar's theories as the basis of analysis on fifty-five purposively selected games, this study proposes ACTION (Avatars, Communicators, Transmissions, Instruments, Orientations and Navigations). Avatars, borrowing Aarseth's terms, are classifiable into interpretive, explorative, configurative, and textonic with four systems and sub classifications for each type. Communicators, referring to the participants involved in the communication with the avatars and their relationship, are classifiable into unipolar, bipolar, tripolar, quadripolar, and pentapolar. Transmissions, the ways in which communication is transmitted, are classifiable into restrictive verbal and restrictive non-verbal. Instruments, the graphical embodiment of communications, are realized into dialogue boxes, non-dialogue boxes, logs, expressions, movements and emoticons. Orientations, the methods the game spatiality employs to direct the movement of the avatars, are classifiable into dictative and non-dictative. Navigations, the strategies avatars perform regarding with the information saving system of the games, are classifiable into experimental and non-experimental. Departing from this ACTION, analysts are able to employ this formula as an approach to reveal how the avatars utilize their own 'linguistics' to communicate, out of the linguistics benefited by humans.
... Besides the empirical material, the research relies also on the previous research performed on multiple fields. The paper draws its backbone mainly from the different schools of design such as usability design [21], engineering design [28], industrial design [9], product design [3], architectural design [18], and interaction design targeting games and virtual environments [15,17]. From these bases a solution suggesting systematic approach to the crafting of better 'look and feel' has been formed. ...
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Successfully crafted ‘look and feel’ is a vital requirement for a prosperous computer game. This paper provides a first step into systemising the design process of ‘look and feel’ of 3D computer game models. The design process of ‘look and feel’ is approached from functional and visual perspectives. The theoretical discussion culminates on a preliminary design framework, which is constructed based on the multidisciplinary literature. The design framework is further refined and detailed with the aid of experimental game design of AirBuccaneers. By drawing upon existing literature and by applying the theories into practice, authors propose a solution, which is a dialectical combination of functional and visual design approaches. The main design framework is formed by iterative and interactive combination of three design criteria: 1) functional intention, 2) aesthetic quality, and 3) perceived characteristics. This combination helps in guaranteeing the required balance in product-like game objects.
... While the appearance typically is given by a set of characteristics for the user to choose, like male or female avatar, and maybe a set of different cloths, skin or hair colors for example. As of body movements, Kujanpää & Manninen (2003) presented a considerable set of possible elements an avatar can include to manage the transmitting of NVC. ...
... Aujourd'hui, une majorité de travaux s'intéresse aux solutions de commandes de l'avatar qui pourraient être les plus simples pour l'utilisateur, e. g. par capture directe sur l'utilisateur 11 ; à partir des textes échangés dans les systèmes de Chat, voire sur la base de la reconnaissance de parole (Salem et Nearle, 2000). Des modèles et des ontologies pour l'animation commencent aussi à être proposés (e. g. Kujanpää et Manninen, 2003). L'aspect technique y est prédominant (e. g. ...
Conference Paper
As systems become large, they are developed by complex organizations, involving dozens of companies spread over several contractual tiers and several geographic locations. As component scales shrink, systems integrate increasing numbers of diverse applications onto common computing platforms, requiring diverse expertise from diverse locations. In this environment, common media can be inadequate for coordinating and synchronizing developer efforts. An Immersive Networked Virtual Environment emulates colocation. From their PC keyboard and monitor, participants steer representations of themselves through a 3-dimensional virtual world. In some cases they communicate with each other audibly using a headset and microphone; in others communication is via text messaging. They interact to socialize, play games, develop models, assemble and animate 3-dimensional objects, and other similar activities. In some cases they can launch standard desktop applications within embedded windows to create documents, designs, and other artifacts. This paper describes one example of such an environment and how it might improve geographically distributed software development. It also describes results-to-date of an ongoing evaluation. Copyright © 2009 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc.
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The opening of ubiquitous computing era prompted rapid increase in information transfer between human and computer. Such changes in computing environment requires new computing interface. In this paper, we develop a user interface prototype and framework using Avatar in Ubiquitous computing environment, which can support an active communication between human and computer based on context information. To develop the new interface, its conceptual framework with specific context information is designed in advance. In addition, this study suggests the future goal of user interface using Avatar by suggesting the requirements of constructed prototype.
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The lack of intuitive and non-intrusive non-verbal cues is one of the distinctive features that separate computer-mediated communication settings from face-to-face encounters. The analysis of the non-verbal communication forms in a multi-player game session indicates that the participants of collaborative virtual environment can effectively use various forms of non-verbal communication to reduce the communication difficulties. A creative combination of various communication channels makes it possible to enhance the interaction. The limitations of computer mediation can be reduced by enabling more flexible and natural interaction. Although the naturalness and of face-to-face communication is hard to achieve, the virtual environments provide additional ways to enhance the weak areas of interaction.
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Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) were designed as an expansion of the text-based chat room, rather than a novel application, exploiting the possibilities of online three dimensional graphical space. This initial design direction is observable at the interface level. We put forward the case that to achieve an efficient CVE system, one will have to design and implement a multi modal User Interface based on expressive Avatars as a representation of the different participants, also as an embodiment of software agents. We emphasise the expressiveness of the avatar as a crucial improvement to the efficiency of their communication capabilities, and we describe a vocabulary of expressions to be implemented. We put forward the case that to be more efficient, particularly during a dialogue, an avatar is required to play a role in the communication using non-verbal channels such as body postures, facial expressions and hand gestures. We also suggest conversation circles to facilitate the gathering of participants in a discussion. These circles will address navigation difficulties in CVEs and encourage social exchanges.