Rui Prada,

D – Departamento de Engenharia Informática, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa


With the emergence of synthetic characters, collaborative virtual environments can now be populated with these characters and users at the same time, all interacting, collaborating or competing with each other. However, the user’s interaction with the synthetic characters is not always the best, and it is only positive if the characters are able to show a coherent and believable behaviour. Therefore, in scenarios where users and synthetic characters interact as a group, it is very important that the interactions follow a believable group dynamics.

Focusing on this problem, we have developed a model that supports the creation of a believable group dynamics on a group of synthetic characters, inspired by theories of group dynamics developed in human socio-psychological sciences. The dynamics is driven by a characterization of the different types of interactions that may occur in the group, and deals with both the socio-emotional interactions and the task related interactions.

We have implemented the model into the behaviour of synthetic characters that collaborate, in a group, with the user in the resolution of tasks within a virtual environment. The collaborative task was developed in the form of a computer game that engages the user in a group with four synthetic characters constituted to solve together puzzle like challenges. This game was used on an experiment conducted to assess the effects of the model on the user interaction with the group, and the results showed that the model had a positive effect on the users’ interaction experience, specially in their trust and identification with the group.

Keywords: synthetic characters, group dynamics, collaboration, human-computer interaction, multi-agent systems, virtual environments


Date: 2005-Dec-16     Time: 15:30:00     Room: ANFITEATRO PA-3 – EDIFÍCIO DE PÓS-GRADUAÇÃO DO IST

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