Joshua Tanenbaum, Magy Seif El-Nasr, Michael Nixon et al. 2014

Over the last 20 years there has been an expansion of network mediated social activities, and an accompanying explosion of research interest into the poetics of networked communication. Of particular interest is the rise of what have come to be known as “virtual worlds”: persistent graphical environments populated (and often partially authored) by large communities of individual users. Interactors in these worlds are embodied as avatars: digital puppets or representations through which the user exerts his or her will on the environment. It is this virtual embodiment that makes today’s virtual worlds so interesting. With virtual embodiment comes a host of new and important communicative possibilities, and an assortment of new challenges and literacies including a wide range of nonverbal communication behaviors and non-linguistic social signaling options.

In this book, we begin the work of articulating the challenges and possibilities for non-verbal communication in virtual worlds. Drawing on a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, we consider the past, present, and future of human communication online.

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“Virtual worlds, for both play or work, have come to be an important part of online experience and this collection offers fantastic insight into the role of nonverbal communication in these environments. From issues of avatar appearance and animation, all the way to considerations of empathy and gaze, this is a must read book for anyone wanting to better understand the rich potential of digital spaces.”
Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT and Co-Author of Ethnography in Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method

“For scholars concerned with video games and play, where so many of our digital landscapes are occupied by individuals using humanoid avatars to interact with both non-human and human actors, this book is a definite must read.”
Moses Wolfenstein
Associate Director of Research at the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory

“I cannot recommend a better book that so nonchalantly dismisses our technophobic inclinations, giving us instead frameworks and heuristics for realizing new media’s potential.”
Mark Chen
Spare-time Game Designer, Part-time Professor at Pepperdine University, UW Bothell, and UOIT, and Author of Leet Noobs: The Life and Death of an Expert Player Group in World of Warcraft