create an avatar




Does the use of an avatar affect the users’ personality?


Here we examine if the use of an avatar may affect a users personality. Primarily the focus is on forums, although if chat rooms were still as popular then they would serve as a better example. The idea of avatars extends beyond chat rooms and forums, since a person on a social media site or on an MMO video game may also be classified as using an avatar. 

Even social media and MMO video games can count as avatar use

People on social media do not always project their true selves. Many people create a miniature propaganda campaign, only showing pictures of them doing things that they wish people to associate with their personality. Writing comments and creating bios that do not give a true representation of themselves. MMO video games that are played via a network are using avatars. For example, World Of Warcraft insists on a user creating a character and persona to match the game. Furthermore, there are people who become so entrenched in their avatar personality that they will speak differently using team-speak online. For example, a person with no military experience will use commonly held military jargon when talking to other players on military games.

Masquerading for pleasure, thrills or fetish

Some people make avatars for pleasure since it is all part of living out a fantasy. People are also able to gain thrills from avatars by breaking their society-enforced norms. For example, an elderly mother on a chat room may use foul language, where she would not in real life, safe in the knowledge that nobody in her social circle will ever find out. Other people use avatars to masquerade on dating sites and chat rooms in order to participate in web voyeurism or cyber sex (originally tipped as the reason the one handed keyboard was invented).

Allowing one to act in way they would not during their non-virtual life

Using an avatar by definition implies that the thing seen is not particularly a true representation of the original creator. When people become “Tomb Raider” on the Playstation or PC, they are acting out roles that they would not participate in during their normal lives. This allows people the freedom to act out of character with their avatar.

Living vicariously through another 

The consequences for an avatar seem less intense or real than those of a true personal profile. If another person hates an avatar then it affects the user less than if a person hates a profile (aka a person).

Spent time and money on the character

It seems that games such as World Of Warcraft have the right idea when they insist that a person spends time to create an avatar, and then spend hundreds of hours making the avatar stronger and more powerful. The investment of time is a very good incentive to project thoughts and feelings towards (and into) an avatar. Some players have been known to become seriously upset when their character is killed when they have spent so long building up that character. The emotional investment often translates into the avatar becoming a character in itself. The user may not project his or her feeling and thoughts into the avatar (although some do). The user may simply control the avatar in a fashion that he/she feels that character would act if it could think on its own. This is the most common and healthy use of avatars, since it has the least affect on the users personality in the real world, and in the long term.

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