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Avatars and Identity Play
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Avatars and Identity Play



Slideshow for NMC Symposium on Creativity in Second Life

Slideshow for NMC Symposium on Creativity in Second Life



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Avatars and Identity Play Avatars and Identity Play Presentation Transcript

  • No More Business Suits Please! Creative Identity Play in SL   Angela Thomas Anya Ixchel http://angelaathomas.com
  • Texts of the Body
    • Corporeal semantics: the body as a text
    • How do we interpret and construct the body as a text?
    • We communicate through a textual and corporeal dialogism
    • How might avatars be ‘read’ institutionally in ways that grant or deny access to particular forms of communication over others.
  • I use my avatar…
    • As a “close as possible” representation of my real body
    • As a mode of identity expression
    • To represent aspects of my inner self, in a metaphorical way
    • As a way of living out a fantasy of my idealised body
    • As a way of neutralising any discrimination I’ve felt about my offline appearance
    • To hide
    • To play with the idea of a fantasy character
    • To experiment with alternative ways of being
    • To challenge dominant discourses about gender, race, class
    • As a vehicle for protest or call for social action
    • To use the privilege of whiteness, beauty, youth to my advantage
    • To use the privilege of “otherness” to promote a news-worthy persona and gain media attention
    • To show off my fashion / skin / hair business
    • To attract the opposite sex
    • To express my sexuality / sexual preference
    • To align with a particular group or sub-culture
    • Errr…. What?
  • I have been discriminated against because my avatar is…
    • Too beautiful
    • Too sexy and flirtatious looking
    • Too similar to everybody else
    • Too different
    • Too boring
  • Too newbie-ish Too many prims Too young Too old Too humanoid Too furry Too …..
  • We experience / read / interpret / construct the avatar from three perspectives: Aesthetic Functional Social / Critical
  • Aesthetic Do we like it? Is it beautiful / interesting / make us want to know about the person who created it?
    • Stand next to one person whose avatar you appreciate aesthetically
  • Functional What story does the avatar convey? What roles do they play in SL? What are the identity markers that tell us about this person’s real or imagined story?
    • Stand next to somebody whose avatar has an identity marker similar to yours
  • Social / Critical What values or attitudes are being represented and how do they align with yours? Are there any seeming contradictions between the ideology of the avatar and the ideology of the person? What histories are being included and omitted?
  • Opportunities for Identity Play
    • Cause “gender trouble”
    • Be outrageous
    • Explore the use of different identities to challenge the status quo
    • Question why you or your students react negatively to certain avatars
    • Include identity play in your curriculum
    • Change your avatar – don’t always wear a business suit!
    • Tolerance, respect, understanding
  • Avatar Resources