July 30, 2019

Social Network IMVU and ArtCenter Partnership Explores Game Design and Social Play

Students Develop Experiences that Foster Connection and Friendship

IMVU, the world’s largest avatar-based 3D social network, and ArtCenter College of Design, one of the world’s premier art and design schools located in Pasadena, California, recently launched a studio partnership to give students the opportunity to design 3D experiences that promote social connections. Students enrolled in “Online Avatars & Digital Landscapes” course are designing solutions to business challenges associated with motivating communication in a mixed-reality world.

“IMVU seeks to help our global community build real-life connections in virtual environments,” said Victor Zaud, SVP of marketing at IMVU and an ArtCenter alumnus. “We provide an interactive space where millions of users experience 3D creations and connect with one another on a deeper level than just chat. As society increasingly relies on online environments to connect, we’re dedicated to partnering with the young innovators who are designing the communication platforms of the future.”

“ArtCenter has a long history of bringing students and brands together to create valuable immersive learning experiences,” said Maggie Hendrie, chair of Interaction Design at ArtCenter. “Year after year, companies like Adidas, Jaguar and Google collaborate with our students and faculty in order to stay relevant and competitive.”

During the 14-week ArtCenter IMVU course, upper term students are learning about the history of human communication and understanding the necessary elements needed for people to socialize. Through a series of research assignments, investigative field trips, and making workshops, students are proposing interactive experiences that help the IMVU community to converse in new ways.

By examining how IMVU users guide their digital characters and interact with others in the community, student teams are assembling an initial hypothesis to eliminate friction, improve conversation and foster common bonds. Students are building tools, environments, avatars, and associated creative elements such as fashion pieces or room décor, to test their assumptions. Guided by expert faculty, students are testing and iterating their designs, in real-time, within IMVU’s live platform.

“The IMVU studio is an empowering educational experience because it expands student design skills by allowing them to immediately build and test concepts with millions of people in a live, 3D social environment,” said Jenny Rodenhouse, assistant professor, director of the Immersion Lab at ArtCenter and faculty of the IMVU studio class. Ming Tai, associate professor, faculty director of Graphics Design and Illustration, and faculty of the IMVU studio class, added, “The student teams learn to ideate, design, release, and repeat, iterating on new scenarios that have received real-time feedback. Students are learning how their work can actually facilitate digital socializing within IMVU, not hypothetically.”

“IMVU has been working to spread the power of friendship for over 15 years. It’s not easy to create the warmth of a friend’s smile or the visceral excitement of a concert in a digital world but they’ve made great progress as the world’s leading avatar-centric social network. I’m excited to see them partner with premiere institutions like ArtCenter to push forward the cutting edge and help millions more feel a greater sense of belonging,” adds Shawn Carolan, partner at Menlo Ventures.

For more information about partnerships like the one with IMVU and ArtCenter, visit: bit.ly/IMVUandArtCenter

About IMVU: IMVU (imm-view) is the largest digital 360 conversation community where 200+ million registered users customize their characters, navigate immersive environments and make new friends. IMVU’s environment is tailored to support deep and meaningful connections in a competition-free environment. The multi-platform social network features self-organized social play that takes place in thousands of user-created spaces. It is the home of a robust digital economy featuring a catalog of 40 million virtual goods made by over 50,000 creators.

The app is rated 17+ for mature themes, is a top 10 social media network app on both Android and iOS and is also accessible on desktop and mobile web. Founded in 2004, IMVU hosts 200+ employees at their Redwood City, CA headquarters, is currently profitable and is supported by major investments from Menlo Ventures, Best Buy Capital, Allegiscyber Capital, and various other notable venture capital firms.

About ArtCenter College of Design: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status with the United Nations. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

Nicole Jordan
Radix Collective for IMVU

Teri Bond
ArtCenter College of Design

A photo of a large green and black shoe on display.
A Nike retail display created by Marianne Wellman, Tricia Sada and Jose Ramirez for an avatar-based 3D social network at the IMVU ArtCenter partnership studio.
A photo of a cool living room set for a webcast hosted by an attractive woman.
A set created by Xun Liu, May Chen and Shane Park for the IMVU 3D social network during the IMVU ArtCenter partnership studio.
A photo of an elaborate room decorated with lettuce patterns and potatoes with a girl sitting at a table.
An elaborate living space created by Elizabeth Klein for the IMVU avatar-based 3D social network during the IMVU ArtCenter partnership studio.
Photo of a student presenting a digital landscape on a board.
ArtCenter student Tricia Sada presents concepts at the IMVU ArtCenter partnership studio. © ArtCenter College of Design/Juan Posada
Photo of enthusiastic student presenting her idea for a 3D world with avatars.
ArtCenter student Elizabeth Klein presents at the IMVU ArtCenter partnership studio. © ArtCenter College of Design/Juan Posada
A photo of alum Victor Zaud, IMVU SVP, as he provides feedback to students.
Victor Zaud, SVP of marketing at IMVU and an ArtCenter alumnus, provides feedback to students at the mid-term. © ArtCenter College of Design/Juan Posada