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A 3D virtual environment for social telepresence

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We examine OnLive Traveler as a case study. Traveler is a clientserver application allowing real-time synchronous communication between individuals over the Internet. The Traveler client interface presents the user with a shared virtual 3D world, in which participants are represented by avatars. The primary mode of communication is through multi-point, full duplex voice, managed by the server. Our design goal was to develop a virtual community system that emulates natural social paradigms, allowing the participants to sense a tele-presence, the subjective sensation that remote users are actually co-located within a virtual space. Once this level of immersive "sense of presence" and engagement is achieved, we believe an enhanced level of socialization, learning, and communication are achievable. We examine a number of very specific design and implementation decisions that were made to achieve this goal within platform constraints. We also will detail some observed results gleaned from the virtual community userbase, which has been online for several years
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