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Avatars evoke emotions

Over by a virtual ocean, the waves gently breaking, I ask if I can try a little experiment. Jones volunteers. I tell her: "My fair warning is that it will require being a bit in your face." And by "face," I mean robot face: no nose or lips. Again, in real life we're in different rooms miles away. I lean forward, so that my robot is right up against hers. Jones doesn't like it. She grunts a bit and compares it to a crowded subway car, with other bodies too close for comfort. "It makes me want to back up a little bit, just because of that same subway impulse," she says. To her boyfriend, who's standing a few virtual feet away, it looks like our robot heads are touching. "I don't really want to, but I feel a little bit jealous," Gordon admits. "I already have this sensation like this body has Amy in it. And here's someone right up, head snuggling." Jones doesn't like that he feels that way so she backs up.