Virtual Presence – Identity, Immersion, Potential and Risk
Virtual Presence – Identity, Immersion, Potential and Risk Dr Dale Patterson & Mr Scott Roberts This paper summarizes the results from a three year study looking at identity, immersion, potential and risk in virtual environments. The study looked at the perceptions of participants regarding their immersion in these virtual spaces. Through surveys and observational techniques, this project analyzed the levels and types of engagement undertaken by participants within the interactive virtual environments. These virtual environments included a range of types of community including games, entertainment, social and educational. The study involved over five hundred participants from a variety of cultures and locations. The results from this work demonstrate that virtual environments have many of the same issues as physical environments. For many participants there is a significant need to personalize the space in which they exist, whether it be a virtual space or something real/physical. As with any community, there is a need for participants to have an identity in that space. Interestingly in the virtual spaces the identity chosen by many participants was very different to their real world identity. This ability to take advantage of the relative anonymity of virtual spaces led to many participants taking greater risks in terms of identity and creative activities, including those in creative learning environments. In contrast the detached nature of these virtual spaces caused some participants to withdraw, thus reducing the amount of interaction in the space and inevitably leading to their withdrawal from the community. Overall this project has highlighted some advantages that are unique to virtual spaces and also identified areas of potential risk.
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