Semi-Autonomous Avatars: A New Direction for Expressive User Embodiment

Gillies, Marco; Ballin, Daniel; Pan, Xueni and Dodgson, Neil. 2008. Semi-Autonomous Avatars: A New Direction for Expressive User Embodiment. In: Lola Cañamero and Ruth Aylett, eds. Animating Expressive Characters for Social Interaction. John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 235-255. ISBN 9789027252104 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Computer animated characters are rapidly becoming a regular part of our lives. They are starting to take the place of actors in films and television and are now an integral part of most computer games. Perhaps most interestingly in on-line games and chat rooms they are representing the user visually in the form of avatars, becoming our on-line identities, our embodiments in a virtual world. Currently online environments such as “Second Life” are being taken up by people who would not traditionally have considered playing games before, largely due to a greater emphasis on social interaction. These environments require avatars that are more expressive and that can make on-line social interactions seem more like face-to-face conversations.
Computer animated characters come in many different forms. Film characters require a substantial amount of off-line animator effort to achieve high levels of quality; these techniques are not suitable for real time applications and are not the focus of this chapter. Non-player characters (typically the bad guys) in games use limited artificial intelligence to react autonomously to events in real time. However avatars are completely controlled by their users, reacting to events solely through user commands. This chapter will discuss the distinction between fully autonomous characters and completely controlled avatars and how the current differentiation may no longer be useful, given that avatar technology may need to include more autonomy to live up to the demands of mass appeal. We will firstly discuss the two categories and present reasons to combine them. We will then describe previous work in this area and finally present our own framework for semi-autonomous avatars.

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Date Deposited:

30 Jul 2009 09:25

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:27


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