How to Explore the “Spatialites” of the Avatars in a Virtual World? Example of the Project “Magic Ring” in Second Life

Le 23 mars prochain, j’interviendrai dans le colloque « 4th Global Conference: Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds« , qui se déroulera à Prague, du 22 au 24 mars. 

Voici le résumé de mon intervention (texte en ligne après la conférence) intitulée  » : How to Explore the “Spatialites” of the Avatars in a Virtual World? Example of the Project “Magic Ring” in Second Life » 

This paper presents the project « Magic Ring », a tracking device developed in the virtual world of Second Life (SL) that makes possible to collect millions of «quali-quantitatives» data about the practices of spaces of the avatars. We consider the practices of users engaged in the virtual world for what they are, rejecting any value judgment. So, we look at the modalities by which avatars and their users are in the virtual world and how we can analyze that, objectively, as authentic social practices.

Firstly, we present two projects that have been developed in SL before our own project (Yee et al., 2007; Friedman et al., 2007) and we compare some properties with it. It is also important to explain that if the “Magic Ring” can collect automatically a large number of data, it requires to mobilize a lot of up-front resources: technical development, mediation with avatars to thwart ethical problems, etc.

Secondly, we discuss the possibilities that a device like the Magic Ring opens. We present few examples that we have obtained during our research. This allows us to examine the practices of the avatars of Second Life through their spatiality in the virtual world, that is to say, as a dialogic relationship between “space” and “society” under Michel Lussault’s approach (Lussault, 2007).

Furthermore, we point out that this theoretical approach is possible because it’s fundamentally linked to the nature of the retrieved data and to the tools and the softwares used (Latour, 2012; Manovich, 2012).