Avatar, your digital extension in the Metaverse

Your future identity will pass through an avatar, an interactive and persistent digital twin. It will be a part of your life inside the new virtual universes.

We talked about Metavers, the Nft that tends to become a buzzword in the French media. It’s time to start a series of articles on the components of the Metaverse to draw the outline. The idea here is to research what tomorrow will be the building blocks of your life within these new virtual universes. The first elements that represent you through this new space: yours, your avatar.

Returning to historical reference, the 1990’s Avatar embodied the freedom to present oneself in the anonymity necessary to experience identity. It is now increasingly associated with digital identity. If we stop for a moment on traditional games, the pawns with which the player moves along the universes are the trace of his progress in the game, they are not particularly invested in the meaning of identity, they are not embodied. In attendance, participants have a relay pawn on the board.

The term avatar, borrowed from Sanskrit, is usually used to designate those groups of information, or digital characters, that represent the inhabitants of virtual worlds. The avatar, as a projective identity, is the product of the player’s interpretation, and as a semiotic technical system, it is conditioned by the interface. Today’s concept of an avatar goes even further: it includes meanings that go beyond its traditional definition of a “character manipulated by the player”.

Playtime is intertwined with everyday life […]. The user no longer has to stand behind his computer screen, but can continue his games in public transport, in a coffee shop, at any available time, the latter criterion being a key factor for success.

The avatar-filled metaverse is a logical continuation of self-expression enhanced by filters on Instagram. ” the games [et par extension le métavers] They become environments in which people identify themselves,” notes Grant Patterson, in Wunderman Thompson

Thanks to avatars, we will no longer need to search for a better version of ourselves in real life through plastic surgery. We can be as many people as we want in the virtual space, depending on the mood of the day. An avatar is a system of signs that replaces the body in virtual worlds: it contains the stakes of telepresence.

If the Sanskrit origin of this term connects it with the avatar of Vishnu who “descended from heaven” (avatara), it was only in 1992 that “avatar” appeared in a numerical context and its use became popular. , notably through the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (published in 1992 by Bantam Spectra Books), and then spread through the multiplayer game (MMO) Habitat in 1995.

The avatar character must be controlled by a human subject, unlike the demons, the computer-controlled agents in Stevenson’s novel. By imposing a hypothetical “stigma-free” body pattern of disease and death (Casilli, 2005).

The avatar has taken a graphic form, data is collected on it (for example, registration history, experience, status, ranking, objects), the possibilities of expressing identity are improved. In 3D discussion spaces, local area network (LAN) and telepresence games (such as MUDs), most participants know each other only through this medium.

Otherwise, defined by the terms ‘personality’ and ‘characters’, in reference to theatre, by the term digital puppet, this set of subject-specific references characterizes the Internet’s imagination at the time of the deployment of multimedia computing.

Associated with play (games with dolls, comic games), even before specializing in games (sports games, hand games, and things from the virtual world. From an avatar to immortality and strength, the avatar transforms and becomes a loyal companion that equips the leisure, interactions and consumer practices of adults and adolescents

If the user customizes and manipulates the avatar, this will also have an effect on the user’s behavior. Nick Yee and Jeremy Belinson (2007) highlight the influence of avatar characteristics (physical attractiveness, size) on the course of interpersonal communication and user behavior in the virtual world.

Semi-independent avatars of life simulation games (Sims), management games (Civilization, Sim City) or avatars (black and white), given AI, most likely operate without player intervention. Then the player becomes the companion of the character that represents him in proportion to his intervention.

Between the avatar and the player, very strong bonds are woven, which enhances the immersion process and a sense of connection or influence.

In casual games (Solitaire), augmented reality games (Wii or Kinect consoles) or games with a touch interface (Angry Birds on the iPad), the avatar is not represented visually by a permanent object, but by tracking current interactions.

The avatar will allow the user to colonize and fit the virtual world and new communication technologies, before disappearing by being incorporated into the user’s body in haptic interfaces. At the same time, close to the cyborg user persona through assimilation of machine action, and further away through highly tangible uses, the third form of symbolic movement would demonstrate the body’s assimilation of the specific characteristics of a machine.

The player’s life merges with his fun activity. The avatar, which only had a funny dimension in a separate framework for playing the game, penetrates into the social, friendly and professional spheres thanks to digital social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

It is deeply related to digital identity, by posting identity information that powers a user’s online activities, and displaying calculated information regarding in-game scores or the number of friends. Tomorrow your avatar will be an extension of yourself, which will evolve over time, and will have an impact on your everyday life.

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