Avatars are representations of a user’s body in VR. These best practices will help comfortably display a user’s avatar in VR.
User avatars typically correspond to the user’s position, movement and gestures. The user can see their own virtual body and observe how other users see and interact with them. VR is often a first person experience where use of an avatar is unnecessary; the user is simply disembodied in virtual space.
Avatars can give users a strong sense of scale and of their body’s volume in the virtual world. The virtual avatar should be a realistic height in relation to the scene for a comfortable experience.
However, presenting a realistic avatar body that contradicts the user’s proprioception (e.g., a walking body while they are seated) can be uncomfortable. Generally, users react positively to being able to see their virtual bodies and avatars can serve as a means of eliciting an aesthetic response. User testing and evaluation is critical to see if and how avatars will work for your application.
Any weapons or tools used should be integrated with the avatar, so the user sees the avatar actually holding them. Developers that use input devices for body tracking should track the user’s hands or other body parts and update the avatar to match with as little latency as possible.
Research suggests that providing users with an avatar that anticipates and foreshadows the motion they are about to experience allows them to prepare for it in a way that reduces discomfort. This can be a benefit in 3rd-person games. If the avatar’s actions (e.g., a car begins turning, a character starts running in a certain direction) reliably predict what the camera is about to do, this may prepare the user for the impending movement through the virtual environment and make for a more comfortable experience.