Last week, I posted on how the study of online gaming, specifically interactive multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft, could lead to new insights into how to best minister on the Internet. As part of that research, I have just finished reading I, Avatar, a fascinating book about just what happens when someone spends more and more time in a virtual world and focuses specifically on the concept of the avatar.
The author, Mark Stephen Meadows, defines an avatar as “an interactive, social representation of a user”. And here is where it gets interesting: while we may think of an avatar as something that only exists in a virtual world such as WoW or Second Life, he also points out that anytime we create an interactive, social representation of ourselves we are, in effect, creating an avatar. So that Facebook account you keep where you present the most interesting side of yourself to your “friends”: avatar. That blog you write where you put all of those highly intelligent posts: avatar. Even that car you drive that tells everyone something about you: avatar. The way I see it, all of us have multiple avatars, whether we use them in interactive online games or not.