Who We Are and Who We Want To Be

One of the most interesting finds concerning my essay is a book called Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators. In this book, the photographer brilliantly shows the player opposite their online persona.
What really got my attention was how much their avatars meant to them in a way that it was a vessel to express themselves compared to their real life disabilities, gender or social standing.

An overweight man played as a tank protecting the weaker players and being the heart of strength in the team, and because of that appreciated position he had, it affected his social life which was eventually attended to once realizing what was happening to him. Another man had a different standing online, where he made many friends, one that lead to marriage with a woman, even though he was married in real life. The marriage was nothing beyond friendship, and he even got permission off his real wife who apparently had respect for their friendship and also helped when comforting his online wife.

Many players were the opposite gender to their avatar, for many points. One of the main reasons was how it affected their gameplay experience and how other players reacted to them due to their sex. One teacher had changed from a male alter_4character to a small childish female character purely for the reason that it got more attention and was approachable when selling things at the market. One woman played as a man to avoid sexist ridicule of her abilities and harassment so players could appreciate her abilities fairly. Which in fact, isn’t fair at all, showing how players are forced to be something they did not envision just to play a game peacefully.
On the other hand, a man played as a bubbly cheerleader for he felt like this avatar represented his true self.

avatar_creatorOne of my favorites to read was about a disabled man who made his ideal figure and representation and made friends regardless of  his disabilities in real life. A similar story but about a group, took turns in controlling a girl avatar, and enjoyed the opportunity the game offered them that they could not do in real life.
Situations like this are why avatars can be so important for some people as it’s presented as a second life for them. It helps to break the barrier that they may encounter due to their physical appearance and thus produces a more truthful  relationship, and in saying that I mean, whether or not the avatar is a true representation of the player, their behavior will still impact their experience.


One thought on “Who We Are and Who We Want To Be

  1. I have experienced this in a couple of ways and you are spot on with your analysis. I played Yoville on Facebook as a cheerleaderesque character so that I could even an annoying little girl. When my daughter started playing it a couple of years later it concerned me that she was engaging with people far too openly in an online environment. So I rolled out my character and showed her me causing arguments and chatting up male avatars. She thought it was hilarious until I reminded her that I was a 30 something bloke. Needless to say that she got the message and now behaves a lot more responsibly online.

    The other instance relates to disability and perception. A friend of mine has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound. He got himself a job doing telesales and was utterly shocked at how rude people were to him. I said to him, “Welcome to the world of the able bodied person.” But he didn’t understand. I explained to him that for years people had treated him differently due to his disability and that this was how he thought that people really were. But by being on a telephone, rather than a face to face encounter, people could not tell that he was sat in a wheelchair so they treated him the same as any other person.

    A great article 😀

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