Date of Award

4-21-2009

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Kay Beck - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Naveen Donthu

Third Advisor

Dr. Alisa Perren

Abstract

Virtual worlds are online communities that enable user interaction via avatars in a computer-based simulated environment. In recent years, the fast growth of virtual worlds and their enormous potential for various applications have attracted much attention. Though the uses of virtual worlds are becoming numerous in diverse fields, the core issue for their development from the perspective of gamers is to maximize user immersion. This paper tackles the issue from the perspective of game designers and explores the immersive dimensions of users via an experiment. The experimental platform is a specific virtual world, Second Life, and a particular gaming situation, dancing. The main manipulation involves altering the graphic realism level of both the avatar¡¯s appearance and the dancing environment. The research aims to find out whether there is a correlation between graphic realism and user immersion and, if there is, what element(s) or degrees of realism will lead to different levels of user immersion.

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