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Body Extensions and Representations within Disembodied Virtual Spaces

Gesche Joost; Sandra Buchmüller; Rosan Chow


This paper documents a design driven inquiry that focuses on the question how the physical body of human beings is represented within virtual spaces. Using the methods of content analysis and participatory observation, we investigate the interfaces of a text-based and an image-based online role-playing game, so called Multi User Dungeons (MUDs), referring to their virtual body representations and their impact on individual performance, navigation and community interaction. Regarding the body as an essential benchmark of spatial orientation and communication due to its social, cultural meaning and its individual expressiveness, designers define the way of virtual embodiment by the development of their interfaces. In this respect, the investigation of ‘body as interface’ is an essential design research issue. In this paper, we also vote for the utility of qualitative methods for design research purposes revealing social and cultural implications of design artifacts.