Literacies of Speed: nonverbal communication in a MUVE


Presentation Title:

  • Literacies of Speed: nonverbal communication in a MUVE



  • This investigation aims to explore and develop a model of communication appropriate for interactive games environments. These environments are increasingly experienced online. They are more often than not multi-user environments, involving thousands of people in remote locations throughout the world. The dynamics of game-play are collaborative and rely on fast and immediate communications. The speed with which communication must take place in such environments has given rise to an interest in faster, more abbreviated modes of text-based communications, not unlike the SMS messaging associated with mobile phones. A faster and more expedient language, grounded in iconography rather than alphabetic literacy, is desired.

    In this project, methods for nonverbal communication in digital games and virtual worlds are explored as alternatives to chat and other text-based forms of communication. Inspired by pre-liguistic societies and pictographic languages, the design of a new system called ‘symbolchat’ for virtual worlds has been developed. An online game is developed that uses this system at various levels in the game world. Reflecting upon the design and development of this system, and observation of it in use by players the application and role of nonverbal communication in digital games and virtual worlds is explored.

    In the game, players are encouraged to engage in free play with an abstract environment constructed from image and sound. Activities include:

    1. –    player-to-player communication using iconographic language;
    2. –    modification & construction of game world;
    3. –    taming and training of autonomous entities;
    4. –    multiplayer synaesthetic VJ play using generative systems;
    5. –    community building in persistent world.

    Via this MultiUser Virtual Environment, play with the interface and world via its unique audiovisual syntax allows the exploration of alternative modes of communication within electronic spaces.

    The project draws upon previous game worlds documented at