Is it Possible to Become Addicted to Avatars
         
 

 

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Is it Possible to Become Addicted to Avatars

 

An avatar is a graphical representation of an alter ego. It takes many forms, but in its simplest terms it need only be picture to represent something else. That something else tends to be a human, but it may also represent a company or even an idea. In console and PC games an avatar is often considered to be the alter ego of a human player, but this is not always the case. For example, a man may play within an open world game such as “Mount and Blade” and play as a woman. This is not because they relate to the character in any way, it is simply because the man may prefer to look at a female warrior as oppose to a blood stained barbarian man. Yet, the three dimensional representation is an avatar and in this case is controlled by a human player.Do people become emotionally attached to avatars? Yes they do, and the feeling may go either way. For example, Microsoft Word used to have a paper clip avatar that acted as a helper with the word processor. It was ignored by many and some people really hated it. It is quite possible for people to become attached to an avatar in the same way that people became attached to graphical sprites such as tamagotchi pets. There are many people who play the online MMO World Of Warcraft. They take literally hundreds of hours building up one character. If that character dies (resets to zero) then people have been known to have withdrawal symptoms and actually cry over their fallen avatar. Why do people have withdrawal? The concept of people having withdrawal symptoms due to the loss of an avatar is not as farfetched as it seems. People pour hours into things such as computer games and pour hours into their “work” on their avatar alter ego. They psychologically associate this alter-life with happiness, freedom and escapism to the point of the brain releasing endorphins when the game is played. The so called death of that avatar may result in an abrupt halt to endorphin release, and withdrawal symptoms such as moodiness and restlessness are not uncommon. This may also happen when a person is forcibly stopped whilst playing. The person may become moody and even irritable if called away for extended and unexpected periods. Isn’t this just gaming addiction? Part of it may be blamed on an addiction to gaming, though the avatar alter ego is really where the endorphin kick comes in. People who have just lost an addiction will often seek out others. People who have quit smoking will often turn to food addiction; people who have stopped gambling will often create a sex addiction. When some people break a physically damaging addiction they will often try to switch to one that is less physically harmful such as gaming or gambling. Is gaming known as being as addictive as drugs or alcohol? No it is not, but anything may be used to fuel an addiction. There is even a reported case of a woman dying because she was addicted to water. A person addicted to gaming will often focus their addiction on an avatar. The death or depletion of that avatar may have a physical effect on the person with the addiction.

 

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