Why does the tail wag the brain? What is virtual autism? Why can't our avatars walk hand-in-hand? Will a nonverbal Babel fish save the world? Jeffrey Ventrella, a seasoned virtual worlds programmer and visual language expert, reviews the history of avatars, smileys, and other expressive forms, and considers a future of spectacular creativity. This book combines thoughtful scholarship with amusing anecdotes from the trenches of Silicon Valley. Virtual Body Language presents a thorough analysis of the neurological, linguistic, aesthetic, and technical aspects of how nonverbal communication can be distributed over the internet. Based on nearly a decade of avatar development, Ventrella has the practical foundation on which to justify even the most outrageous claims, regarding what "avatar" might mean in the future.
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“A brilliant and lucid opening up of what an avatar is/could be, told from the inside, from the body, from gesture -- which surely is at the centre of human expressivity and creative unfolding. I'm reminded of Deleuze's "we have only just begun to know what a body is capable of" in the way Ventrella thinks what a virtual body is/can be.”
- Brian Rotman, author of Becoming Beside Ourselves
“Given Jeffrey's groundbreaking work with avatars in virtual worlds, I'd consider this mandatory reading for anyone interested in the future of the medium.”
- Wagner James Au, author of The Making of Second Life
“Jeffrey has done something really hard to do: make a deep technical treatise into a story; not just informative, but readable and fun.”
- Brad deGraf, 3D animation pioneer
“It's very rare that designers of games and virtual worlds give us a glimpse inside their design process. Jeffrey Ventrella, co-creator of the virtual world There.com, has graced us with this lucid and practical account of his experience creating expressive avatars, and developers of multiplayer worlds would do well to build on his groundbreaking work. "Virtual Body Language" is a must-read for both designers and researchers who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the intense expressive relationship between avatars and their users.”
- Celia Pearce, author of Communities of Play
“Jeffrey Ventrella takes us on spirited personal journey through the birth of the new medium of virtual worlds and shows us how a master designer makes avatars wink, wiggle and wend their way into our collective futures.”
- Bruce Damer, author of Avatars!