(Re-)Opening an encounter in the virtual world of Second Life

On types of joint presence in avatar interaction


  • Laura Kohonen-Aho University of Oulu
  • Anna Vatanen University of Oulu




avatars, conversation analysis, co-presence, encounter, gathering, multimodal interaction, (re-)openings, participation, transition, virtual embodiment, virtual worlds


This study explores how ‘gatherings’ turn into ‘encounters’ in a virtu­al world (VW) context. Most communication technologies enable only focused encounters between distributed participants, but in VWs both gatherings and encounters can occur. We present close sequential analysis of moments when after a silent gathering, inter­action among participants in a VW is gradually resumed, and also investigate the social actions in the verbal (re-)opening turns. Our findings show that like in face-to-face situations, also in VWs partici­pants often use different types of embodied resources to achieve the transition, rather than rely on verbal means only. However, the tran­sition process in VWs has distinctive characteristics compared to the one in face-to-face situations. We discuss how participants in a VW use virtually embodied pre-beginnings to display what we call encounter-readiness, instead of displaying lack of presence by avatar stillness. The data comprise 40 episodes of video-recorded team in­teractions in a VW.




Kohonen-Aho, L., & Vatanen, A. (2021). (Re-)Opening an encounter in the virtual world of Second Life: On types of joint presence in avatar interaction. Journal für Medienlinguistik, 4(2), 14–51. https://doi.org/10.21248/jfml.2021.30