Vicky McArthur, the program director of Carleton’s Bachelor of Media Production and Design, has won a $157,500 NSERC Discovery Grant to explore how to make the avatars used in virtual environments and games more inclusive.

“Most online virtual environments offer users the ability to customize their avatar – the character that represents them within the environment and is seen by other users. Yet, many character customization interfaces impose problematic constraints, limiting on how users can present themselves online,” McArthur said.

McArthur’s previous work has challenged research on avatars. Namely, research that focuses on how users chose to represent themselves in games and virtual environments without studying how those same users had navigated the affordances – the choices available – in the avatar customization interface itself.

“The constraints can lead to social exclusion, which describes the processes by which certain user groups are systematically marginalized,” McArthur said.

This project is in part inspired by McArthur’s early research on avatars in the workplace that he conducted more than a decade ago. It takes into account recent advancements in computer graphics as well as the increased uptake in virtual reality (VR) social environments.

Friday, June 24, 2022 in , ,
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