Creation of the Social Identity through the Dressing and the Representation of the Virtual Body in Virtual Internet Communities
An avatar is a gamer’s/participant’s virtual representation and manifestation in a 3D virtual world such as Second Life, World of Warcraft and others. Different appearances of avatars have different effects in the communication and behavior of the participants in virtual public spaces, as participants with more elaborate avatars had greater success in virtual social contacts than those who used avatars with a “simple” appearance. The process of creating an avatar is influenced by the virtual world’s social context where the participants act and react through their avatars. During the creation process the participants shape their avatars either like their actual appearance or nothing like it. The avatar’s appearance causes confirmatory social behaviors, as participants react subconsciously to the social imperatives underlying the expected behavior based on the digital image’s appearance. The appearance of the avatar affects the perception of the other participants with regards to the actual user behind the avatar, as their expectations of the social structures influence their behavior and they react to other avatars based on their digital appearance. So the reactions of others avatar constitute a behavioral response to the user of this avatar. Most users of virtual worlds create images that look like them, which lead to greater self-awareness of their body, and perceive their avatars as similar to their own reflection in the mirror. This permeates in the social interaction with an increased truthfulness in the representation of the individual characteristics of the participants, leading to effective contacts and interactions between users with more interpersonal confessions. Even digital worlds constitute a framework for experimentation in gender roles and a place for exploration of femininity and masculinity. It is really interesting that half of the female avatars used are actually male users.
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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)
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