The Avatar as a Self-Representation Model for Expressive and Intelligent Driven Visualizations in Immersive Virtual Worlds: A Background to Understand Online Identity Formation, Selfhood, and Virtual Interactions

The Avatar as a Self-Representation Model for Expressive and Intelligent Driven Visualizations in Immersive Virtual Worlds: A Background to Understand Online Identity Formation, Selfhood, and Virtual Interactions

Colina Demirdjian (Double Trouble Creatives, Australia) and Hripsime Demirdjian (Double Trouble Creatives, Australia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/IJARB.2020070101

Abstract

One could argue that the “self” as a human entity will be affected by the desire for more intelligence-driven products and creations. The avatar acts as an agent that unlocks the pathway to a better version of the human self. The true power of the avatar is beyond the comprehension of those that see it as a replica or a clone of a human. Rather, for those that look through the lens of the future, the avatar has the power(s) that mankind ultimately desires in their fulfilment of selfhood. To this end, the perception of the avatar needs to be reconsidered in order to appropriately recognise the avatar's multi-dimensional advantages and opportunities it holds for society and how it enhances the human condition. This paper creates a backdrop for understanding the avatar in the connected modalities of the real and virtual state of environments. This paper will also attempt to tackle the connected conditions that emerge as avatar-to-avatar interaction happens through the works of current research to understand the avatar more in-depth.
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Background

The digital representation or visualization of ourselves is commonly known as an avatar. The word “avatar” is borrowed from Hindu myths alluding to embodiment of a superior being (Lyons, Plante, Jehan, Inoue and Akamatsu, 1998, p. 427). As such, the avatar acts as an agent of our identity allowing for digital personification and connecting our real life presence with our virtual world form in a way that the human body cannot be available.

Our objective should be to deliver humanity value by accelerating and shaping avatar technology to personalize various domains, infusing it with a genuine attractiveness in the new age of authenticity. If we can preserve the core elements of authenticity, we believe the avatar will serve to connect humans to a new form of storytelling that prioritizes the individual’s unique footprint and personality to achieve trust in virtual interactions they have and ultimately build loyalty for people to adopt the technology. Rooted on embracing individuality, authenticity and change, the avatar developments will need to built in such ways that aim to make human interaction real by focusing on these core principles.

Driven by the imaginations that have sought to compensate for the sensory and physical constraints we humans desire, descriptively speaking, the avatar provides the only pragmatic solution and capacities to embody us mere mortals and transform us into emerging worlds that we will create as our search for more immersive realism continues (Piryankova, 2015, p. 13-25). It follows that we should enter digital worlds in the same way that we have always entered into our natural habitats and a language of embodiment must organically be born within it.

The avatar can be seen as an extension of the evolution of the technologically mediated body language, enabling us to fulfil and develop our cognitive, personal, social, affective and escapist needs (Moore, 2012, p.48-63). In this search for self-fulfilment of these needs, there comes a time where the virtual stimulation supplies self-gratification that we individuals crave, in such a way that the brain starts to fail to differentiate between the virtual and real experiences (Gamez, 2007, p. 51-66). In the same way, as the avatar becomes so real to us humans, the three-dimensional digital recreation of the person becomes indifferent to the human owner and their real-world identity. Such a fusion leads to an interesting proposition – the brain tends not to care if the experience is real or virtual. This allows us humans to enter into the so called ‘inter-reality’ that is the seamless stay in both ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ reality.

To lay a relevant backdrop, in the blockbuster film ‘The Matrix’, Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) supports this ideology that virtual reality could be so real, that millions of viewers have no idea that they are living in a stimulation because of the strong attachment they feel to the online persona. In reality, frontiers are deep embedded in our frame of mind, to the extent that wearing an avatar will be like wearing contact lenses with a lack of awareness that they are attached to our human bodies (Blascovich & Bailenson, 2011). In the same way that the Nintendo Wii has made a significant leap in avatar control over the joystick and the keyboard over the years, avatars will be automatic without having to use any type of controller – just our physical bodies (Blascovich & Bailenson, 2011, p. 1-4).

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