A comparison of maps and signs for ordered and unordered navigation tasks in virtual worlds

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Computer Science

Conference Title

Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS

Date of Presentation



Online 3D virtual worlds have many exciting and contemporary uses such as for social interaction, teaching and training, entertainment, and even for the development of virtual businesses and economies. However, while these worlds are inhabited by a substantial number of users, navigation in virtual worlds is a challenge for many who visit them. In this paper, we describe an experiment to compare the use of signs and maps as aids for two navigation tasks: an unordered traversal of target locations, and an ordered traversal of target locations. We found that for both tasks, subjects located the targets while covering significantly less distance when using signs as opposed to a map (although this difference was more pronounced for the unordered traversal). While more research is necessary, these results are significant for those who design virtual worlds and suggest that augmenting worlds with signs can help users navigate more effectively. © 2009 IEEE.