When we look in the mirror most of us see the flaws within ourselves and wish that we could change them to seem more perfect to society. What if there was a way that you could pick out every detail about yourself? You could decide how tall you want to be, how skinny or fat, and even your skin color. In the world we live in this is not possible but there is a world where creating the “perfect” person is.
An avatar is a picture that represents a computer user in a game or on the internet, according to Marrim Webster dictionary. A user creates an avatar so that they feel as though they are actually in the game. They feel as though they are the ones actually bowling or shooting the bad guy. When a user creates their avatar do they randomly pick traits or do they consciously think about how they want their avatars to look. If a user is consciously thinking about how their avatar should look, how do they pick out their avatar and why do they pick out the traits that they do? According to Nick Yee, who worked at the Plato Alto Research Center, most gamers make glorified avatars based on themselves. He also says that “people with a higher body mass index – likely overweight or obese – create more physically idealized avatars, [which are] taller or thinner. And people who are depressed or have low self-esteem create avatars with more idealized traits, [such as being] more gregarious and conscientious.” When a gamer creates an avatar that they like, it makes them more involved in the game and makes them want to play more often. They feel a stronger connection to the world in which their avatar lives and research showed that when a gamer thought their avatar was “attractive” they were more likely to interact with other players avatars.
A user can literally become a different person through their avatars which might actually help them in the real world. If a user is shy in real life but more outgoing in a digital world, and they see the effects of how people positively respond to outgoing avatars, that might prompt the user to become more outgoing in everyday life. There are some negative effects of creating an avatar though. A major effect is that when a person creates an avatar they like so much they may not want to leave the digital world and could become anti-social. They could become so fixated on their avatar because they can change every detail but in real life we cannot fix our flaws as easily.
References: Madigan, J. (2013, November 29). The Psychology of Video Game Avaars. Retrieved March 28, 2015, from http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2013/11/the-psychology-of-video-game-avatars/