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Microsoft Study Casts Doubt on Workplace Avatar Chatting

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FROM THE WORLD OF WORK-CRAFT
DailyFeed


Considering the amount of masquerading and double-speak that pervades office life, it would seem that using avatars for videoconferencing would make perfect sense. After all, it’s a lot easier to fudge numbers and equivocate on deadlines when your boss isn’t looking at you, per se, but instead someone who looks like this:



But a shocking new study conducted by Microsoft reveals that people would actually prefer looking at realistic faces rather than insanely creepy virtual ones when it comes to workplace interactions.

The survey asked participants to rate avatars on a number of criteria: comfort, resemblance, realism, formality, appropriateness for work, and my personal favorite, creepiness. Each avatar was sent to 1,600 people at an unnamed large company.

The findings?

“The results from this survey demonstrate that people are open to the idea of using avatars for workplace communication; however, the choice of avatar can significantly impact people’s comfort. In general, the respondents in our survey were open to interacting with a wide variety of avatars, from cartoonish to realistic and casual to formal, as long as the representation wasn’t too eerie or creepy.”

Microsoft is particularly interested in human-avatar relations because of its Avatar Kinect chat services, which Steve Ballmer recently showed off at CES. The company hopes that more offices will adopt avatar-based chat services.

So I figured, what the hell, let's give this avatar-office chat thing a shot.  Below is my little experiment with an unnamed editor at Minyanville. 

Hi, boss -- are we still shooting for that 1 p.m. deadline?

  Cool avatar! You bet. Very important we hit it.

  Thanks. I’m pretty sure we’re on target.

  Great. Thanks!

  But there is one issue that might delay things…

  Yes?

  LEVEL FOUR MAGE ATTACKS!

  What?

  CAST FIREBALL. ATTACK! KILL, KILL, KILL!!

      …....................................................

WE’VE DEFEATED THE ORCS, BUT THE MANTICORE IS ANOTHER MATTER!

  Please send first draft by 1 p.m.

  You bet.  Thank you.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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