The Joy in Avatars

How embodiment in the digital realm leads to happier interactions

How Started

Summer 2020 I was admitted to Oculus Launch Pad, that led me a path of discovery and collaboration with my peers through VR social interactions.

  • I wanted to see how social interactions VR help our happiness levels

  • I interviewed 30 of my Oculus Launchpad peers during a 3-month period

  • Trying to answer if there is a correlation with VR, embodiment and joy

That is how the journey started for me.

Oculus Venues

Oculus Venues

Feeling Well In Your Own Digital Skin

I wanted to dig a bit deeper to understand what are the key factors for successful embodiment in VR and other platforms. Why do we prefer to be represented in a particular way?

Research Goal:

How avatars and embodiment affect user's well-being.

Facebook Horizon Meetup

Facebook Horizon Meetup

Target Audience

My target audience was targeted towards VR savvy users that have tried at least 3 different social VR platforms.

My Oculus Launch Pad peers and participants on the Facebook Horizon Beta program.

Oculus first avatar iterations

Oculus first avatar iterations

What is an avatar anyway?

Dictionary says: a static or moving image or other graphic representation that acts as a proxy for a person or is associated with a specific digital account or identity.

Derived from the Sanskrit avatra, meaning “descent,” avatar first appeared in English in 1784 to mean an incarnation or human appearance of a deity.

Interviews - Embodiment

Participants: 30 participants, age (18 to 39). 13 female, 14 male, 2 non-binary, 1 other.

Example:

At the discovery phase , I conducted user interviews in order to get a better understanding of what the users felt around basic embodiment.

Guiding Questions:

  • How do you feel when creating a new avatar?

  • What are some of the most important traits that you want to see reflected?

  • When you have used an avatar for more than a month. How do you feel about it?

  • What things you wish you could see in your avatar?

  • Is there any frustrations around your avatar creation process? What/Why?

The Joy in Avatars

Interviews - Interactions

Participants: 30 participants, age (18 to 39). 13 female, 14 male, 2 non-binary, 1 other.

Example:

I conducted user interviews in order to get a better understanding of what the users felt around while socially interacting in VR with avatars.

Guiding Questions:

  • How do you first when you arrive a new digital social VR space?

  • Does the accuracy of your avatar affect you in any way why interacting?

  • How do you feel when interacting with others in VR?

  • What are your main frustrations when interacting with others in VR?

30
VR Users
15h
Of Conversations
3
panels
100
cups of coffee
What did I learn?

What have you learned from this project?

Overall, I realized that the interviewed users were in high rate of engagement. VR users showed to be passionate interviewees that deeply care about improving the media.

Key Results:

Users show in 70% of the cases to be positively affected by the look of their avatar.

Users in 85% of the interviews shared positive interactions with other peers in VR.

30% of the users wish they could add more representation to their avatars such as religion or culture identity.

15% of the users showed wishes to have an digital version of themselves that is more accurate to their true self. (Based on gender dysphoria, appearance, clothes...)

10% of the interviewees shared they wish their avatar did not match human form.

Illustration by Wentin Li

Illustration by Wentin Li