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System features of an inhabited 3D virtual environment supporting multimodality in communication

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1 Author(s)
I. Naper ; Dept. of Scandinavian Studies & Comparative Literature, Oslo Univ., Norway

What semiotic potential resides in a 3D virtual environment? This paper accounts for some system features of a Norwegian virtual world called Patagonia, which is part of the 3D RenderWare-based ActiveWorlds. It is argued that these features constitute a semiotic resource in interplay with language. The paper suggests visual semiotics as an additional framework to discourse studies of computer-mediated communication. The term "multimodality" is useful for the recognition of coexistent semiotic modes. Case studies of system features and praxis among experienced users reveal a complex spectrum of semiotic modes in use in Patagonia. The available modes and praxis in a society constitute the "semiotic landscape". Different communication modes are visually represented by a color system. Non-verbal communication is enabled. 3D graphics support the perception of an actual community or "world", although it is located in virtual reality. In closing, the paper stipulates some ethical and methodological issues.

Published in:

System Sciences, 2001. Proceedings of the 34th Annual Hawaii International Conference on

Date of Conference:

6-6 Jan. 2001