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Identity, Presence and the Ageless Avatar in Social Virtual Worlds
19/11/2022 @ 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PSTFree
Identity, Presence and the Ageless Avatar in Social Virtual Worlds.
So, who are we as avatars? For many of us, we have that “ageless” look—a largely socially constructed vision of youthfulness, good health, and gender perfection. And why not? . . . If it is possible, then do it . . . right? But what does that say about us in our avatar forms? The purpose of this talk is not to focus on the ageless avatar, per se; but to use it as a metaphor and starting point to engage the assumptions and decision-making processes that go into what we (and others) see in our avatars—i.e., to explore avatar identity formation and presentation. My comments are framed in terms of the mainly social science literature related to avatars (yes, there is one!), and reflect my recent work on a geographical guide to social virtual worlds and their places. I look at questions that include: What leads us to don an electronic embodiment? Is the avatar “look” important? What is the relationship between the avatar and the avatar’s user? And how does social presence play a role in the avatar experience? In the end, I doubt that anybody will change his/her avatar—I will certainly keep my, ahem, “age-defying,” look—but perhaps we will understand better our avatar dynamics and add to our own self-knowledge.
Meryl McBride/Merrill Johnson, Ph.D.
Professor of Geography
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
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