[what is it]
Sponsored Project:
Concentric is a proposal for a new method of interaction within the IMVU metaverse. We designed immersive, purposeful spaces that aim to elongate conversations by adding a central focus.

Read about it:
IMVU
PR Newswire
ArtCenter Connect
Team: Tricia Sada, Jose Ramirez
Professors: Jennifer Rodenhouse, Ming Tai (Summer 2019)
"this chat dead af" - keke24
When you go to a party in the physical world, you immediately have something in common with the people around you—you know the same people or maybe work in the same industry. In the virtual world, all of those foundations for conversation disappear. By architecting purposeful virtual environments, we gave each space a foundation for shared experience.

This project was NOT about future experiences. It was about using the CURRENT creation tools available within IMVU's platform to design a new way of interacting on the platform.
imvu
IMVU is a strange place, to say the least. Its members are diverse and come together from many walks of life to live glamorously in the virtual world. We had the opportunity to spend hours in our fresh avatar skins, exploring IMVU's play-space with VIP passes and an endless cash flow (thanks sponsors!), all for academic credit.
virtual observation
We jumped straight into the experience and started hopping from room to room, socializing with fellow masked-strangers.

1. Virtual Love
It was immediately apparent that most people were there to find virtual love. People would constantly come into rooms saying, "anyone single?" and then new lovers would leave to find a more private space.

2. Fast Boredom
People got bored quickly, saying they didn't know what to talk about, or stating "this chat is dead".

3. Roast Culture
As in the physical world, it was common for users to bond over cruelty. Users would gang up on one individual & enjoy the connection formed by being together on a team.
physical observation
Purposeful Spaces
In order to answer the problem of chats going dead due to lack of shared experience, we decided to create purposeful spaces that made conversation structures clear.

Circular Form
We looked to purposeful spaces in the physical world for clues. We identified the pattern of circular structures, which really resonated because within IMVU we had noted that rooms with wrap-around couches tended to support longer conversations.

Spatial Archive
We created a spatial archive which catalogued purposeful gathering places across history. Above is just a sample.
M@tchM@ker
Matchmaker is the ultimate spot for singles. Dance your way into the arms of your next s/o and show them what a catch you really are.
roa$t room
Roast Room is a place to roast your friends... AND get roasted. Turn up the drama and let Becky know what you really think of her hair.
l!pst!ck Rev!ew
Lipstick Review is the place to talk about all things lips: gloss, matte, chapstick, liner. What do you love & what do you hate?
concentric structure
Shown above: levels of engagement in the room increase as the user moves closer to the center. Every aspect of the room is intentional and contributes to communicating the room's purpose and the type of socialization that is meant to happen within.
"roast me ?" - iMISSyou
Cause for Celebration
In this special moment, we had invited a stranger into our Roast Room, and he actually got into the central node and requested that we roast him. He entered the space and immediately understood how to use it.

Node Poses
In the Roast Room, the central node forces the avatar to grow dramatically in size, and then take a fetal position and sob, while participant nodes yell and point.

Consent to Roast
By having a specific place to "roast" and be "roasted", we add a level of consent and playfulness to insults that would no doubt be hurled in a more hurtful way across other rooms in the metaverse.
Recordings by Tricia Sada
live testing
Process
The premise of this sponsored project gave us the opportunity to design, prototype and test rapidly. Uploading new rooms, inviting strangers, and getting feedback; our designs came to life in a truly iterative process.

Insights
We learned that IMVU visitors want a certain level of stimulation while in a room. We had also assumed that because of the hype-friendly shopping catalogue, IMVUers would be interested in talking about hype products, but our first attempt was too specific, we needed to reference a genre, not a specific release.

Gifting
And of course we rewarded our participants with virtual gifts from their IMVU wishlists.
pose catalogue
We combed carefully through the pose shop (a seemingly endless inventory, mostly made up of various make-out poses) for the right stances to suit our rooms. These are the final selections.
smart compromises
Graphic Resolution
This is just a sample of some of the many textures which we created and tried out in the many rooms we built. File size and quality levels were a constant issue, as were uploading 3D files onto the platform.

Off-The-Shelf Forms & Poses
Ultimately we used basic rectangular rooms and furniture / poses purchased in IMVU's shop, because 3D files always imported semi-shattered or wrongly placed, leading to fractured graphics or sitting in the floor.

Pushing Limits
While we wanted to push against the normal IMVU aesthetic which favors hyper-realism, we knew that broken graphics or wrongly placed furniture would be a step too far for the community.Graphics
process gallery
1. Initial Brainstorming
2. / 3. / 4. Room Mock-ups in C4D
5. Final Discussions (with IxD Dept. Chair, Maggie Hendrie)
[covid-19: full virtual]
In this moment that our lives have gone full digital, IMVU has a new relevance. Events can take place in spaces that push the boundaries of what would be possible in the physical world.

Our initial concepts for Concentric revolved around the presence of an IMVU influencer, holding time-based events.

Given the state of life in lock-down, this is exactly what is now happening. The platform provides opportunities for immersive experiences that couldn't be replicated on any other social media network.

say hi