What the elements that scaffold the strong sense of [co-]presence we experience when working and playing inside in a MUVE? When we examine a social MUVE such as Second Life it is possible to identify three layers on which 'sense of [co-]presence' operates:
Presence according to Yee et al. (2007) measures how real one believes a mediated environment is in terms of non-verbal behaviours (Garau et al. 2001), physiological responses (Slater, 1994) and other measures. In the diagram three separate presence layers are identified. The physical presence layer is composed of a visual element, where avatars can see each other through the default camera point of view (POV) - the main window on the 3D environment – and a geographic element where the location of other avatars in-world can be tracked using the in-world 2D maps. Physical proximity also allows avatars in-world to see physical gestures, poses and animations. The communication layer offers several channels for interaction from synchronous voice and instant messaging (IM) to asynchronous mechanisms such as an in-world group notification system and the connection of IM to an email account. The status layer provides minimal information about in-world presence indicating when avatars are logged into Second Life.
Warburton, S. (2009). Second Life in higher education: Assessing the potential for and the barriers to deploying virtual worlds in learning and teaching, British Journal of Educational Technology. 40 (3), 414-426.