Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Virtual & Augmented Identity Discussion Guide

XR Design Salon Meeting #2 - June 11, 2018
Below are some ideas to stimulate thought and conversation about identity in immersive environments at the salon. There are many ways that users' perception of identity and design choices will affect the user experience in XR, please expand on these and discuss your ideas in the SeattleVR Slack #designsalon channel or in the comments. This is a living document and subject to change!
To examine how design choices affect the user experience of identity in VR/AR/MR/XR. 
Themes to consider
  • Connection/disconnect between 'real' and 'virtual' identities
  • Hiding/revealing identity in VR/AR
  • Imitating RL identity in XR
  • Internalizing virtual identities
  • Social interactions based on identity/perceived identity
  • Politics in virtual identities, i.e. gender/race/age/religion/view 
  • Perception of safety in XR based on identity
  • Personal storytelling based on identity
  • Cross platform identity management
Virtual & Augmented Identity
  1. How management of one’s identity changes in a virtual reality
    1. Physical appearance of avatar (can be a choice or dictated by the software)
      1. Race/gender/age
      2. Body shape/size
      3. Apparel
      4. Sounds & gestures
    2. Disembodied avatar body parts
      1. Floating hands for controllers
      2. Floating heads as communication proxies
      3. Does this improve functionality? 
    3. Psychological impact
      1. Positive
        1. Freedom from physical boundaries
        2. Freedom from social status
        3. Freedom to safely share intimate details
        4. Intimacy and bonds formed with others
        5. Empathy for other points of view, experiences
      2. Negative
        1. Cognitive dissonance from true identity -> identity crisis
        2. Vigilance needed to consistently fool others
        3. Fear of being fooled by others hiding their identity
        4. Movement changes can impact health
  2. How one's real life identity is unintentionally revealed in XR
    1. Voice
    2. Writing or speaking content and style
    3. Gestures/gait/infirmities
    4. Facial recognition/scanning
    5. Personal relationships
    6. Background sounds
    7. Location
    8. Sensitive personal information, i.e. name, age, address, financial, etc.
  3. Decentralized Identity systems to maintain avatar identity across programs and platforms
    1. Do they work?
    2. Will the convenience increase participation?
    3. What are the risks as they become more popular?
I’ve linked a few articles to get you started for the June 11, 2018 meeting, but hope you’ll all find your own (or write your own and link to your blog!) and share it with the group. Some of these resources don’t specifically address virtual reality or augmented reality or even identity. I included them because they cover concepts that might be useful applied to designing how identities work in VR/AR. 
  1. Academic Papers ( is a good way to search for more)
    1. Harrell, D. F., & Lim, C. U. (2017). Reimagining the avatar dream: modeling social identity in digital media. Communications of the ACM, 60(7), 50-61.
    2. Kasza, J. (2017). Post Modern Identity: 'In Between' Real And Virtual. World Scientific News, 78, 41-57.
    3. Lemley, M. A., & Volokh, E. (2017). The Real Law of Virtual Reality. UCDL Rev., 51, 51.
    4. Schultze, U. (2014). Performing embodied identity in virtual worlds. European Journal of Information Systems, 23(1), 84-95.
    5. Thomas, J., Azmandian, M., Grunwald, S., Le, D., Krum, D., Kang, S. H., & Rosenberg, E. S. (2017). Effects of Personalized Avatar Texture Fidelity on Identity Recognition in Virtual Reality. Eurographics Proceedings.
  2. Professional Articles
    1. Constine, J. (2018). Facebook animates photo-realistic avatars to mimic VR users' faces. Tech Crunch.
    2. Kopfstein, J. (2016). The Dark side of VR: Virtual Reality Allows the Most Detailed, Intimate Digital Surveillance Yet. The Intercept.
    3. Prajapati, C. (2018). Here's How Privacy is Threatened by AR/VR. Entrepreneur India.
    4. Valdivia, G. (2016). Identity Transfer And The Rise Of Virtual Surrealism. Art + marketing.
  3. Videos/Podcasts
    1. Blascovich, J. (2018). Digital freedom: Virtual reality, avatars, and multiple identities: Jim Blascovich at TEDxWinnipeg. [online] YouTube. Available at: 
    2. Brillhart. J. (2016). Getting Real with Virtual Reality. The Conference 2016.
    3. Bye, K. (2018). #625: Decentralizing Identity in VR with Holonet & Self-Sovereign Identity. Voices of VR Podcast - Designing for Virtual Reality, #625.
    4. Laird, T., Clark, O., Harris, P., Scolaro, B., Wolfe, S.G. (2018). The Evolution of Self Identity within #VR and #Gaming. Digital Jam Sessions.
    5. Morph 3D. (2016). Identity in AR and VR. [online] YouTube. Available at:
  4. Books
    1. Cerra, A., & James, C. (2011). Identity shift: where identity meets technology in the networked-community age. John Wiley & Sons. (ebook available free at KCLS and SPL on Overdrive.)
  5. Other - TBD

Slides for the June 11, 2018 meetup are available here: