Despite the claim that ‘you are the controller’ designers of video game characters do not model players’ avatars using any criteria other than aesthetics. Given the demonstrated malleability of the human body image the purpose of this study was to investigate whether the disparity between the player’s body and its representation on screen might affect the player. This was achieved through the use of a disproportionately sized avatar when using a full-body motion sensing device, the Microsoft Kinect™. The results demonstrated that drastically disproportioned avatars was disrupted user’s ability to effectively control it but that it also affected their experience of their own bodies and could lead to discomfort. However it was also the case that a 20% lengthening of the upper arms increased reach without causing the avatar to become incongruent to the user, or affecting their ability to control it, in fact the results showed that improvements in performance were possible through this. In considering these results we propose that the design of avatars is not a ‘neutral’ and designers of systems that make use of natural motion interfaces should carefully consider the design of the avatars given their possible impact on the performance and perception of users.
Palmer, M., & Pink, S. How does the alteration of an avatar’s proportions affect experience and performance when controlling it?. In D. Brown, & E. Petersson Brooks (Eds.), Virtual Reality Technologies for Health and Clinical Applications. Springer. Manuscript submitted for publication