Chris Ward talks about how much better it is to converse with his son in WoW than just on the phone.
Why does that work?
Onset cues. This is *the* engine of presence in virtual worlds or any simulation for that matter.
The fun question is: what effects do simulated onset cues have on a developing personality.
What is the right balance of the cues for the online personality and the meatspace personality?
People come to game 'cons' and use the cues of their online personality in the meatspace social world having become uncomfortable with using their own real names, etc., in a gathering of like-trained individuals. This is a key idea for applying VR sims to training environments or business environments.
See norms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norm_(sociology)
It comes down to the evolution of clusters of message types (norms) and affordances (behaviors) in disparate locations that share some property. Abstractly, that is what a situation semantic is. The sales and marketing heads use this concept to create business classes that may be physically located in different places but those places have some similarity related to the products, therefore, the arrangements of the cluster. For example, think of a franchise that sells in Texas and Florida. The shared property is the temperature of the region and that is a low-energy semantic force that organizes the product clusters.
An intelligent framework is sensitive or “aware” of these forces so that the emergence of situation semantics is at once both natural and directed. In short form, “smart enough to go with the flow”.
Presence is the belief in the norms of a situation as evidenced by the use of the affordances consistent with the norms. Go with the flow. Emotion engines for semiotes are a means to provide a 'bot avatar with believable presence by motivating acts given some situation which are consonant with expectations for that bot in that situation. That is in essence, character.
The physical aspects of onset cueing are also important. For example:
That is a link to an article about flight simulation basics in which the concept of cueing is explained. Flight simulation pioneered much of the modern simulation systems to which VR owes its existence. Music systems are another area where there are ideas that can be harvested but flight simulation is the place to begin historically. It is often not possible to provide physical cues although commercial low-end haptic systems are available (force-feedback controls). What is important is to take the time to read the literature and to understand the basis for these controls and to implement them in the design of the world.
VR opens many possibilities for representation. Some are entertaining; some are fantastic, but only a limited set will be instructive. Understanding how and where to emphasize the real-world real-time nature of cueing is fundamental to creating effective VR training systems, and to creating self-directed norms based business systems. These are not new theories in either the instuctional or business system domains, but we do need to reconsider them in terms of the expansiveness of the real-time 3D media wrappers. We need to investigate the service mixes, how they can be represented in 3D (eg, what to do with VOIP given spatial sound), and what combinations are right for specific products.
It is good to play, but an hour in the library will usually save you a month in the lab.
Where it goes wrong:
*Dis*believers have no place in the lab or at the emergence point of innovation.
Hints for open implementations