Avatars & psychology / self representation

Avatar construction

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Many of the questions brought up by the proposed readings would get me back into thinking of my experiences playing Dragon Age. I have played the serie’s games with different races, and I was always very curious about how the other characters would treat me. Comments about my race and gender, or a character being easier/harder to discuss with because of my avatar options were relatively frequent. The narrative has complex interactions between different races, and many pre-established hierarchies. In two games of the series, your character is accidentally pushed into a position of power, so everyone else tend to be admired by you, but you may hear things such as “I didn’t expect you to be a woman/dwarf/elf”.

Avatar dragon 1.png

I never really make my avatars look like me. Actually, they are never even humans, so I decided to make an avatar in Dragon Age: Inquisition trying to have this experience. I realized the few times I tried making an avatar look like me, I wouldn’t be able to make a nose that resembled mine, so I would prefer to choose other characteristics. Again, I spent a lot of time working on the nose, and it is probably the best avatar nose I ever made myself, but when it was done, it still didn’t look anything like me. At some point, I had no idea what to change, but it still wouldn’t feel like it resembled me.

When the game started, the avatar started making sense to me, and somehow I felt attached to it. Well, it took me a significant time of my life to make it, that is the least that could happen.

 

Adobe Fuse

This was my first time using Adobe Fuse, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised when I first dragged part of the figure’s face and had the nose completely disfigured. Again, the nose. Since I had done my Dragon Age avatar right before this one, I started from the nose. I changed each and every setting a thousand times, and it only got worse and worse. At some point, I decided to set everything else and come back to it.

Fuse avatar 1.png Fuse avatar 2.png

It took me a long time to figure out how to navigate the program, so I had many parts accidentally smashed/grown until I finally got used to it. Also, there are just so few hair options that it is hard to see myself in any of them.

 

Thoughts

Comparing both created avatars, we can see how different they are, but somehow I can see myself in both of them. I realized that making a 3D version of yourself requires knowing different angles of your body, so at some point, it is just too difficult to figure out how you look like in the outside.

*

I was very instigated by the article about “The Sims of the Oppressed”, and how the author articulated Boal’s propositions, creating a community inside a game that was not community-based. I only remember playing versions of The Sims that had at least a few personality settings, so I looked the article up to discover that it was written in 2001. It has been a long time since I last played this game, but I know they have made a few changes considering making their characters less machine-like, but it is still a game.

Considering the logics that involve algorithms, is it possible to occur true free interactions in a virtual space?

*

Both the readings and the experience of construction made me think a lot about the time when I played MMORPG. My experiences as a female avatar in those virtual spaces has deep roots in my personality. I didn’t really understand much at the time, but it was clear to me that I was being treated differently because of my avatar’s gender.

A bit earlier than that, I was part of the Brazilian Fake Community in Orkut, which had a majority of female users, and many girls would make male characters so there would be more people wanting to interact with them. This community merged the experience of social media with digital games, so they would make a fake profile with photos of a celebrity under a different name, and costumize their avatars by editing their pictures. There would be many communities, a few of them open, and to get into the ones that were closed you’d have to make friends in the open ones and make them invite you. If you were good enough in social medial socializing, you’d find a family to be part of, and you’d add their surname to your profile.

Is it too different with us?

What changes is our social media interaction when we upload that amazing, heavily-edited profile picture that our photographer friend took for us?

 

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