Second Life: Usability Assessment, Image Interactive Technology Consumer Preferences and Avatar Persuasion
Gardner, Alexander C.
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Designing effective and usable interactive virtual environments (VE) is a new challenge for designers and human factor specialists. Conventional usability principles do not apply to VEs such as Second Life because they do not account for wayfinding and navigation techniques, object selection and manipulation, and integration of visual and auditory system outputs. In addition, VE system designers must enhance avatar presence, immersion, and system comfort while minimizing sickness and maximizing usability. Furthermore, an impediment to shopping in Second Life is the impersonal nature of virtual world shopping. In the first study, components from The Multi-Criteria Assessment of Usability for Virtual Environments (MAUVE) were used to assess the usability of Second Life in addition to determining whether consumers preferred shopping on a 2D Web-site or in a 3D store within Second Life. The 2D Web-site was rated as more usable than Second Life, but Second Life was more interactive. The second study showed that using an avatar sales agent leads to more satisfaction with the retailer, a more positive attitude toward the product, and a greater purchase intention. In addition, study 2 showed that an expert avatar is a more effective sales agent at high levels of product involvement while an attractive avatar is more effective at moderate levels of involvement. Second Life economic implications and concerns are discussed.