Dat glaive: Teleconferencing

Avengers-Glaive-Teleconferencing-01

When his battalion of thralls are up and harvesting Vespene Gas working to stabilize the Tesseract, Loki sits down to check in with his boss’ two-thumbed assistant, an MCU-recurring weirdo who goes unnamed in the movie, but which the Marvel wiki assures me is called The Other.

To get into the teleconference, Loki sits down on the ground with the glaive in his right hand and the blue stone roughly in front of his heart. He closes his eyes, straightens his back, and as the stone glows, the walls around him seem to billow away and he sees the asteroidal meeting room where The Other has been on hold (listening to some annoying Chitauri Muzak no doubt).

Avengers-Glaive-Teleconferencing-09

The Other does not see the Loki sitting on the ground in MCU-prime (MCU-1°). Instead, he addresses the avatar of Loki (in MCU-2°) which appears with a cyan projection-ray flourish, in Asgardian costume. In addition to the alteration of his appearance, the glaive looks different. It is much taller and thinner, and its blades more pronounced in this projection, i.e. looking more like a real scepter.

Avengers-Glaive-Scepter

Now, that’s a scepter.

From an interface standpoint, there is one thing to note and four questions for this interface.

Nota Bene

Note the modification of appearances. The teleconference could have worked like a video camera, showing Loki cross-legged on the floor. In the Make It So book I argued that advanced communication systems should interpret, not just report, and that’s what the glaive is doing here. The altered appearance is better for Loki since he needs to project an air of authority and command in the situation, and the regal accoutrements helps him do that. If only we knew how he selected the outfit. Was there some system setup? Is it just the default? Is this mystically how he sees himself? Of course The Other knows he’s looking at a representation and isn’t completely buying into it, but how much worse for Loki would this meeting gone if he showed up like a schlub?

Questions that need answering before it can really be evaluated.

One: What do others around MCU-1° Loki see. How do thralls know he’s in teleconference? That’s important so they know not to interrupt him unless it’s really important. My guess is the glowing crystal. Between that and Loki’s closed eyes, any onlooker could suss out that he was in a call. (For comparison/contrast, I noted a similar signal in The Fifth Element headsets.)

Two: What’s the degree of immersion. Can teleconference Loki hear anything in MCU-1°? If so how does he know which universe a given sound comes from? If MCU-1° is softened, what’s the threshold by which it is let through? Can a thrall yell to get his attention? If MCU-1° is completely muted enemies would have a massive advantage over him while in teleconference.

Three: How does he control the avatar? In MCU-1°, he’s seated and unmoving, so let’s presume it’s a control-by-mind interface. Certainly quite a natural control mechanism (with a perfectly mapped interface).

Finally: How does he control the interface? If the system is perfectly immersive, he needs some set of escape codes to tell the interface, “I want to leave this teleconference now,” or “Paused to humiliate a thrall,” or “No bars, let me call you back.” He might be able to do it with thought, of course, but it might be more useful to imagine a gesture or spoken command to do the same.

Sadly, we don’t get to see how we does this, because the Other bullies him out of the conference with a mean gesture: The Other pushes his hand against Loki’s head and *poof* he’s suddenly out of conference. And while Loki’s movements in MCU-2° don’t require his movement in MCU-1°, his MCU-1° head does move after being shoved by the Other’s gesture.

Teleconference-push-out

That’s an awesome narrative moment to show the audience that Loki has made a deal with some guys more powerful than him and who show him no respect. As powerful as he is, he might be out of his depths, and the stakes are real.

3 thoughts on “Dat glaive: Teleconferencing

    • Could be true. (Probably true?) But from an interaction design perspective, I want to ask if the glaive had some part in it. More useful than the “magic” or “by brain” answer I think.

      • If anything, it simply taps into his ego. “This is how I see myself.” His avatar is probably a bit taller too.

        But then again, it could be on the other end, where the interface isn’t confined to a staff.

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