Upon my surfing this month, I came across an EA Sports website, a gaming portal that enables players to ‘paste’ their head shots onto the body of the player of their choice. The micro-site is called Game Face. It gives this personal “welcome” to the players: Create your EA sports avatar on the web and get to play as yourself in the games! Interesting concept I thought.
I am not hugely into sports gaming (which EA are known for) but I like the concept of personification: the users “see themselves” in the interactive zone they are engaged in. Perhaps, people tend to become more efficient in interactive games when they see themselves in it. The survival instinct kicks in: they don’t want to see their avatar lose or die right before their very eyes.
I remember at a game developers conference years ago a guy called Daniel Goldstein of Microsoft Research and this other guy from Stanford Uni, seeing if giving people vivid images of their older selves would change their spending and saving preferences on games. They took photos of subjects and used cool software to create digital avatars—half of which were aged with jowls, bags under the eyes, and gray hair but came across quite realistic.
From my experience, the correct and efficient use of avatars in story-based eLearning design is only part of the whole approach. To create the appropriate learning environment, designers should set a good story, an apt setting and environment and a realistic and natural script. This will create the right tension and draw the learner into the scenario not focus on the character look.
Sure, I there is the need for recreating real-life scenarios. And sometimes there are emotions and reactions involved. While we try to draw out the spontaneous reaction from learners, it is also as important to give them space to process their own learning.