Interactive Cultural Experiences using Virtual Identities
Marde Greeff , University of Pretoria, South Africa
Vali Lalioti , University of Pretoria, South Africa

Session: Design & Evaluation: User Interaction

All of us are exposed to stories as early as our childhood. Legends and stories about our culture and heritage are passed over from generation to generation. Stories have been used in VR and multimedia to create interactive stories. Interactive stories allow us to be actively involved in the story and to explore the story world to our hearts content. Therefore, it can be used to teach people about different cultures in a way that people can relate to and enjoy. We proposed using virtual identities in cultural environments. This approach allows the creation of multiple identities that can be used as interaction metaphors by users. We extended this approach by providing a framework to define virtual identities and implementing an authoring tool. This will enable users to create an interactive story world that adapts according to the virtual identity that is exploring it. In this paper we give an overview of the approach and authoring tool and then describe in detail how cultural heritage is communicated in a virtual environment using this approach. We choose the Cato Manor example where the user can learn about a shebeen (township tavern) by creating three identities - a shebeen owner, man and boy. By using the same model (shebeen) and allowing certain interactions in the shebeen according to the identity, a learner can explore the shebeen through the eyes of the identity. Therefore, three different cultural experiences can be obtained allowing a rich cultural learning experience.

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Published: 01/09/01
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