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LMU Expert: Avatar Could Be 'Game-Changer' for Internet
Date:12/18/2009

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The highly anticipated film Avatar, opening in wide release today, revolves around a future technology that allows individuals to control separate, genetically engineered bodies from remote locations. While that technology may still be far off, the virtual world of 3D Internet is here today, and it's a subject of intensive research at Loyola Marymount University's Psychology Department.

RICHARD GILBERT, Ph.D.

Gilbert is a professor of psychology and the head of the P.R.O.S.E. Project (Psychological Research on Synthetic Environments) at LMU. Since 2008, LMU professors have taught courses and conducted research in Second Life, an online world where users travel, communicate, and interact via virtual avatars. Students and researchers have surveyed users about the relationships and personalities they have formed in Second Life, and what effects the experience of using a "healthy" avatar can have on users with disabilities.

QUOTABLE: "This movie is bringing to the big screen an experience that millions of people are already having, albeit on a smaller scale: controlling a remote avatar that walks, talks, and interacts with others, just like any of us would in the real world. Avatar could completely change the perception of the experience represented by Second Life and bring that immersive experience to the forefront of more people's online lives. While the technology imagined in the movie does not yet exist, the psychological effects of that kind of virtual relationship are here, and they're very real."

MORE INFORMATION: To schedule an interview, please contact the LMU Communications Office at: 310.338.5133

For a complete list of LMU's experts, please visit '/>"/>

SOURCE Loyola Marymount University
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