Sandbox 2009: ACM SIGGRAPH Videogame Symposium, ACM Press, New York, pp. 161-168
We investigate the cognitive connection players create between their own bodies and the virtual bodies of their game avatars through tangible interfaces. The work is driven by experimental results showing that execution, perception and imagination of movements share a common coding in the brain, which allows people to recognize their own movements better. Based on these results, we hypothesize that players would identify and coordinate better with characters that encode their own movements. We tested this hypothesis in a series of four studies (n=20) that tracked different levels of movement perception abstraction, from own body to that of an avatar’s body controlled by the participant, to see in which situations people recognize their own movements. Results show that participants can recognize their movements even in abstracted and distorted presentations. This recognition of ‘own’ movements occurs even when people do not see themselves, but just see a puppet they controlled. We conclude that players – if equipped with the appropriate interfaces – can indeed project and decipher their own body movements in a game character.