Millions around the world play Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games and they are important leisure activities for countless individuals (Blinka, 2008, p. 1). In the majority of online games, users construct and play as avatars, or characters that represent the person playing (Merriam-Webster, p. 1). Avatars are used as a way for gamers to create and express their romanticized individualities. It has been found that most users’ avatars are similar to their true selves, but more physically attractive or social (Madigan, 2013, p. 2). For example, a gamer with a reclusive personality may create an avatar with an outgoing personality (Yee, 2004, p. 1). On the other hand, some gamers contrast their avatars completely from their factual selves (Dolan, 2017, p. 2). A man may even play as a female avatar (Yee, 2004, p. 1). An individual can be someone else and express his or her deepest fantasies.
Avatars allow users to move away from actuality and absorb themselves into the games that they are playing. Users that love their avatar’s personalities and appearances feel more attached to the game, and have more enjoyment while playing (Madigan, 2013, p. 2). Eventually, players form a strong connection to their avatars, and the feelings towards them become genuine. Gamers feel that the doings of their avatars are truly important (Blinka, 2008, p. 2). The players interact with other players in the game as the personas of their avatars, not their true selves. The study by Lukas Blinka shows that avid players actually think about their avatars and past events from the game when they are not even playing (Blinka, 2008, p. 1-8).
Even though online gaming can be an escape from reality and the rules of society, online worlds often take on their own rules that follow quite closely to the rules of the real world. There are still beliefs and opinions about what behaviors are acceptable (Madigan, 2013, p. 5). In the online worlds, gender stereotypes, privilege distinctions, and race discrepencies are frequently found (Yee, 2004, p. 1). Interestingly, the attractive avatars are interacted with more than less attractive avatars (Madigan, 2013, p. 5). For the most part, players in MMORPGs do not take their avatars seriously and neither should the people examining them. Gaming and avatars are ways for individuals to recreate themselves in a different world (Dolan, 2017, p. 2).
To conclude, from a person who does not play online games, avatars seem like an excellent form of expression. It would be amazing to reinvent yourself exactly how you wish you could be, all in a world filled with others doing the same. I could be involved in interactions and experiences that would never take place in real life, and meet others with that same mindset.
Academic Journal Article ↓↓↓
Blinka, L. (2008). The Relationship of Players to Their Avatars in MMORPGs: Differences between Adolescents, Emerging Adults and Adults.Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 2(1), article 5.