Avatar (computing)

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Example of what avatar look like, with resolution of 100x100 pixels Wikipe-tan avatar.png
Example of what avatar look like, with resolution of 100x100 pixels

In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character. An icon or figure representing a particular person in a video game, Internet forum, etc. It may take either a three-dimensional form, [1] as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. [2] [3] Avatar images have also been referred to as "picons" (personal icons) [4] in the past, though the usage of this term is uncommon now. It can also refer to a text construct found on early systems such as MUDs. [5] The term "avatar" can also refer to the personality connected with the screen name, or handle, of an Internet user. [6]

Computing Activity that uses computers

Computing is any activity that uses computers to manage, process, and communicate information. It includes development of both hardware and software. Computing is a critical, integral component of modern industrial technology. Major computing disciplines include computer engineering, software engineering, computer science, information systems, and information technology.

User (computing) person who uses a computer or network service

A user is a person who utilizes a computer or network service. Users of computer systems and software products generally lack the technical expertise required to fully understand how they work. Power users use advanced features of programs, though they are not necessarily capable of computer programming and system administration.

Alter ego second self

An alter ego means alternative self, which is believed to be distinct from a person's normal or true original personality. Finding one's alter ego will require finding one's other self, one with different personality. A distinct meaning of alter ego is found in literary analysis used when referring to fictional literature and other narrative forms, describing a key character in a story who is perceived to be intentionally representative of the work's author, by virtue of oblique similarities, in terms of psychology, behavior, speech, or thoughts, often used to convey the author's own thoughts. The term is also sometimes, but less frequently, used to designate a hypothetical "twin" or "best friend" to a character in a story. Similarly, the term alter ego may be applied to the role or persona taken on by an actor or by other types of performers.

Contents

Origins

The word avatar originates in Hinduism, where it stands for the "descent" of a deity in a terrestrial form (deities in Hinduism are popularly thought to be formless and capable of manifesting themselves in any form).

Avatar material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth in Hinduism

An avatar, a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", is the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being.

Hinduism Religion and way of life

Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.

The earliest use of the word avatar in a computer game was the 1979 PLATO role-playing game Avatar .

PLATO (computer system) mainframe computer system

PLATO was the first generalized computer-assisted instruction system. Starting in 1960, it ran on the University of Illinois' ILLIAC I computer. By the late 1970s, it supported several thousand graphics terminals distributed worldwide, running on nearly a dozen different networked mainframe computers. Many modern concepts in multi-user computing were originally developed on PLATO, including forums, message boards, online testing, e-mail, chat rooms, picture languages, instant messaging, remote screen sharing, and multiplayer video games.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Avatar is an early graphics-based multi-user highly interactive role-playing computer game, created on the University of Illinois' Control Data Corporation PLATO system in the late 1970s. It has graphics for navigating through a dungeon and chat-style text for player status and communication with others. It can currently be played online via Cyber1 or a simulation called Javatar. What makes Avatar popular is the high level of interactivity with other players and the sense of community that develops. Development on Avatar began on the University of Illinois PLATO system around 1977; the first version was released by Bruce Maggs, Andrew Shapira, and David Sides in 1979.

The use of the term avatar for the on-screen representation of the user was coined in 1985 by Richard Garriott for the computer game Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar . In this game, Garriott desired the player's character to be his earth self manifested into the virtual world. Garriott did this because he wanted the real player to be responsible for the character's in game actions due to the ethical parables he designed into the story. Only if you were playing "yourself" Garriott felt, could you be judged based on your character's actions. Because of its ethically-nuanced, story-driven approach, he took the Hindu word associated with a deity's manifestation on earth in physical form, and applied it to a player manifesting in the game world. [7]

<i>Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar</i> video game

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, first released in 1985 for the Apple II, is the fourth in the series of Ultima role-playing video games. It is the first in the "Age of Enlightenment" trilogy, shifting the series from the hack and slash, dungeon crawl gameplay of its "Age of Darkness" predecessors towards an ethically-nuanced, story-driven approach. Ultima IV has a much larger game world than its predecessors, with an overworld map sixteen times the size of Ultima III and puzzle-filled dungeon rooms to explore. Ultima IV further advances the franchise with dialog improvements, new means of travel and exploration, and world interactivity.

The term avatar was also used in 1986 by Chip Morningstar in Lucasfilm's online role-playing game Habitat . [8]

Chip Morningstar is an author, developer, programmer and designer of software systems, mainly for online entertainment and communication. He graduated from University of Michigan in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. While at the University of Michigan he also performed research in the Space Physics Research Laboratory, where he wrote device drivers and CAD software for electronic circuitry. Morningstar held many jobs throughout his career in the research and development of technology and programs. Most notably was Morningstar's role as project leader for Lucasfilm's Habitat, the first large-scale virtual multiuser environment. In March 2001, Morningstar and colleague Randy Farmer were awarded the inaugural "First Penguin Award" by the International Game Developers Association for their work on Habitat. He also participated in Project Xanadu, for which the word hypertext was first coined. Additionally, he is credited with coining the term avatar for an on-screen representation and pre-Internet work in online information marketplaces.

Lucasfilm American film and television production company

Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC is an American film and television production company that is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. The studio is best known for creating and producing the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, as well as its leadership in developing special effects, sound and computer animation for film. Lucasfilm was founded by filmmaker George Lucas in 1971 in San Rafael, California; most of the company's operations were moved to San Francisco in 2005. Disney acquired Lucasfilm in October 2012 for $2.2 billion in cash and $1.855 billion in stock.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are a combination of role-playing video games and massively multiplayer online games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual world.

Another early use of the term was in the pen and paper role-playing game Shadowrun (1989).[ citation needed ]

<i>Shadowrun</i> role-playing game

Shadowrun is a science fantasy tabletop role-playing game set in a near-future fictional universe in which cybernetics, magic and fantasy creatures co-exist. It combines genres of cyberpunk, urban fantasy and crime, with occasional elements of conspiracy, horror and detective fiction. From its inception in 1989, Shadowrun has remained among the most popular role-playing games. It has spawned a vast franchise that includes a series of novels, a collectible card game, two miniature-based tabletop wargames, and multiple video games.

Norman Spinrad

In Norman Spinrad's novel Songs from the Stars (1980), the term avatar is used in a description of a computer generated virtual experience. In the story, humans receive messages from an alien galactic network that wishes to share knowledge and experience with other advanced civilizations through "songs". The humans build a "galactic receiver" that describes itself:

The galactic receiver is programmed to derive species specific full sensory input data from standard galactic meaning code equations. By controlling your sensorium input along species specific parameters galactic songs astral back-project you into approximation of total involvement in artistically recreated broadcast realities ... [9]

From the last page of the chapter titled "The Galactic Way" in a description of an experience that is being relayed via the galactic receiver to the main characters:

You stand in a throng of multifleshed being, mind avatared in all its matter, on a broad avenue winding through a city of blue trees with bright red foliage and living buildings growing from the soil in a multitude of forms.

Neal Stephenson

The use of avatar to mean online virtual bodies was popularised by Neal Stephenson in his cyberpunk novel Snow Crash (1992). [10] In Snow Crash, the term avatar was used to describe the virtual simulation of the human form in the Metaverse , a fictional virtual-reality application on the Internet. Social status within the Metaverse was often based on the quality of a user's avatar, as a highly detailed avatar showed that the user was a skilled hacker and programmer while the less talented would buy off-the-shelf models in the same manner a beginner would today. Stephenson wrote in the "Acknowledgments" to Snow Crash:

The idea of a "virtual reality" such as the Metaverse is by now widespread in the computer-graphics community and is being used in a number of different ways. The particular vision of the Metaverse as expressed in this novel originated from idle discussion between me and Jaime (Captain Bandwidth) Taaffe ... The words avatar (in the sense used here) and Metaverse are my inventions, which I came up with when I decided that existing words (such as virtual reality) were simply too awkward to use ... after the first publication of Snow Crash, I learned that the term avatar has actually been in use for a number of years as part of a virtual reality system called Habitat...in addition to avatars, Habitat includes many of the basic features of the Metaverse as described in this book. [11]

Use

Internet forums

Despite the widespread use of avatars, it is unknown which Internet forums were the first to use them; the earliest forums did not include avatars as a default feature, and they were included in unofficial "hacks" before eventually being made standard. Avatars on Internet forums serve the purpose of representing users and their actions, personalizing their contributions to the forum, and may represent different parts of their persona, beliefs, interests or social status in the forum.

The traditional avatar system used on most Internet forums is a small (80x80 to 100x100 pixels, for example) square-shaped area close to the user's forum post, where the avatar is placed in order for other users to easily identify who has written the post without having to read their username. Some forums allow the user to upload an avatar image that may have been designed by the user or acquired from elsewhere. Other forums allow the user to select an avatar from a preset list or use an auto-discovery algorithm to extract one from the user's homepage.

Some avatars are animated, consisting of a sequence of multiple images played repeatedly. In such animated avatars, the number of images as well as the time in which they are replayed vary considerably. [12]

Other avatar systems exist, such as on Gaia Online, WeeWorld, Frenzoo or Meez, where a pixelized representation of a person or creature is used, which can then be customized to the user's wishes. There are also avatar systems (e.g. Trutoon) where a representation is created using a person's face with customized characters and backgrounds.

Another avatar-based system is one wherein an image is automatically generated based on the identity of the poster. Identicons are formed as visually distinct geometric images derived from a digest hash of the poster's IP address. In this way, a particular anonymous user can be uniquely identified from session to session without the need for registration or authentication. In the cases where registration has occurred, the identicon serves as a means to associate a particular user with a particular geometric representation. If an account is compromised, a dissimilar identicon will be formed as the attacker is posting from an unfamiliar IP address.

Internet chat

GIF avatars were introduced as early as 1990 in the ImagiNation Network (also known as Sierra On-Line) game and chat hybrid.

In 1994, Virtual Places offered VOIP capabilities which were later abandoned for lack of bandwidth.

In 1995, KeepTalking, a product of UNET2 Corporation, was one of the first companies to implement an avatar system into their web chat software.

In 1997, Cybertown first introduced three dimensional avatars to internet chat. [ citation needed ]

In 1996 Microsoft Comic Chat, an IRC client that used cartoon avatars for chatting, was released.

Instant messaging programs

America Online introduced instant messaging for its membership in 1996 and included a limited number of "buddy icons," picking up on the avatar idea from PC games. When AOL later introduced the free version of its messenger, AIM, for use by anyone on the Internet, the number of icons offered grew to be more than 1,000 and the use of them grew exponentially, becoming a hallmark feature of instant messaging. In 2002, AOL introduced "Super Buddies," 3D animated icons that talked to users as they typed messages and read messages. The term Avatar began to replace the moniker of "buddy icon" as 3D customizable icons became known to its users from the mainstream popularity of PC Games. Yahoo's instant messenger was the first to adopt the term "avatar" for its icons. Today, many other instant-messaging services support the use of avatars.

Instant messaging avatars are usually very small. AIM icons, have been as small as 16x16 pixels but are used more commonly at the 48x48 pixels size, although many icons can be found online that typically measure anywhere from 50x50 pixels to 100x100 pixels in size.

The latest use of avatars in instant messaging is dominated by dynamic avatars. The user chooses an avatar that represents him while chatting and, through the use of text to speech technology, enables the avatar to talk the text being used at the chat window. Another form of use for this kind of avatar is for video chats/calls. Some services, such as Skype (through some external plugins) allow users to use talking avatars during video calls, replacing the image from the user's camera with an animated, talking avatar. [13]

American Online began to use AIM buddy icons as a marketing tool, known as "Expressions," for music, movies, and computer games in 2001. Since then many advertising firms have as well.

Artificial intelligence

An avatar used by an automated online assistant providing customer service on a web page Automated online assistant.png
An avatar used by an automated online assistant providing customer service on a web page

Avatars can be used as virtual embodiments of embodied agents, which are driven more or less by artificial intelligence rather than real people. Automated online assistants are examples of avatars used in this way.

Such avatars are used by organizations as a part of automated customer services in order to interact with consumers and users of services. This can avail for enterprises to reduce their operating and training cost. [14] A major underlying technology to such systems is natural language processing. [14] Some of these avatars are commonly known as "bots". Famous examples include IKEA's Anna, an avatar designed to guide users around the IKEA website.

Such avatars can also be powered by a digital conversation which provides a little more structure than those using NLP, offering the user options and clearly defined paths to an outcome. This kind of avatar is known as a Structured Language Processing or SLP Avatar.

Both types of avatar provide a cost effective and efficient way of engaging with consumers.

Video games

Avatars in video games are the player's representation in the game world. The first video games to include a representation of the player were Basketball (1974) which represented players as humans, [15] [16] and Maze War (1974) which represented players as eyeballs. [17]

In some games, the player's representation is fixed, however many games offer a basic character model, or template, and then allow customization of the physical features as the player sees fit. For example, Carl Johnson, the avatar from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas , can be dressed in a wide range of clothing, can be given tattoos and haircuts, and can even body build or become obese depending upon player actions. [18] One video game in which the avatar and player are two separate entities is the game Perspective , where the player controls both themself in a 3-dimensional world and the avatar in a 2-dimensional world.

Aside from an avatar's physical appearance, its dialogue, particularly in cutscenes, may also reveal something of its character. A good example is the crude, action hero stereotype, Duke Nukem. [19] Other avatars, such as Gordon Freeman from Half-Life , who never speaks at all, reveal very little of themselves (the original game never showed the player what he looked like without the use of a console command for third-person view).

Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) are the source of the most varied and sophisticated avatars.[ citation needed ] Customization levels differ between games; For example, in EVE Online , players construct a wholly customized portrait, using a software that allows for several changes to facial structure as well as preset hairstyles, skin tones, etc. [12] However, these portraits appear only in in-game chats and static information view of other players. Usually, all players appear in gigantic spacecraft that give no view of their pilot, unlike in most other RPGs. Alternatively, City of Heroes offers one of the most detailed and comprehensive in-game avatar creation processes, allowing players to construct anything from traditional superheroes to aliens, medieval knights, monsters, robots, and many more. Robbie Cooper's 2007 book "Alter Ego, Avatars and their creators" pairs photographs of players of a variety of MMO's with images of their in-game avatars and profiles; recording the player's motivations and intentions in designing and using their avatars. The survey reveals wide variation in the ways in which players of MMO's use avatars. [20] Felicia Day, creator and star of The Guild web series, created a song called "(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar" which satirizes avatars and virtual dating.

Game consoles such as the Xbox 360 (shown here), Wii, and PlayStation 3 feature universal animated avatars. Xbox NXE avatar.png
Game consoles such as the Xbox 360 (shown here), Wii, and PlayStation 3 feature universal animated avatars.

Nintendo's Wii console allows for the creation of avatars called "Miis" that take the form of stylized, cartoonish people and can be used in some games as avatars for players, as in Wii Sports. In some games, the ability to use a Mii as an avatar must be unlocked, such as in Mario Kart Wii .

On November 19, 2008, Microsoft released an Xbox 360 Dashboard update which featured the introduction of Avatars as part of the console's New Xbox Experience. With the update installed users can personalize the look of their Avatars by choosing from a range of clothing and facial features. On August 11, 2009, the NXE Avatar program was updated with the inclusion of an Avatar Marketplace feature that allows users to purchase additional product and game branded clothing, jewelry, full body suits, and animated props. On initial release of the update, game branded content included items from Gears of War 2 , BioShock 2 , Star Wars , Fable II , Halo 3 , and The Secret of Monkey Island special edition. The Xbox LIVE Avatar Marketplace is updated weekly with new items.

In October 2018 Microsoft launched a new version of their Xbox avatars for Xbox One and Xbox on Windows 10. These updated avatars feature much more detail and have a focus on inclusivity.

PlayStation Home for Sony's PlayStation 3 console also features the use of avatars, but with a more realistic style than Nintendo's Miis or Microsoft's Avatars.

Non-gaming online worlds

Avatars in non-gaming online worlds are used as two- or three-dimensional human or fantastic representations of a person's inworld self. Such representations are a tool which facilitates the exploration of the virtual universe, or acts as a focal point in conversations with other users, and can be customized by the user. Usually, the purpose and appeal of such universes is to provide a large enhancement to common online conversation capabilities, and to allow the user to peacefully develop a portion of a non-gaming universe without being forced to strive towards a pre-defined goal. [21]

In non-gaming universes, the criteria avatars have to fulfill in order to become useful can depend to a great extent on the age of potential users. Research[ who? ] suggests that younger users of virtual communities put great emphasis on fun and entertainment aspects of avatars. They are also interested in the simple ease of use of avatars, and their ability to retain the user's anonymity.[ citation needed ] Meanwhile, older users pay great importance to an avatar's ability to reflect their own appearance, identity, and personality .[ citation needed ] Most older users also want to be able to use an avatar's expressive functionalities (such as showing emotions), and are prepared to learn new ways of navigation to do it.[ citation needed ] Surprisingly, some evidence suggests that avatars that are more anthropomorphic are perceived to be less credible and likeable than images that are less anthropomorphic. [22] Social scientists at Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab [23] examine the implications, possibilities, and transformed social interaction that occur when people interact via avatars.

Avatar-based non-gaming universes are usually populated by age groups whose requirements concerning avatars are fulfilled.[ citation needed ] For example, most users of Habbo Hotel, Ty Girlz and Webkinz are aged 10 to 15 years, while users of Gaia Online and WeeWorld are 13 to 18.[ citation needed ] The reason may well be the properties and functionalities of the avatars of these virtual communities, as well as what the games are able to give to their players. In contrast, There and Kaneva Game Platform target users aged 22 to 49 and their avatars allow for a wide range of social interactions, including the expression of emotions: laughing, waving, blowing kisses, and rude gestures.[ citation needed ] The Palace, most of whose users seem to be older,[ citation needed ] allows users to use their own images as avatars. This turns the avatar into a direct reflection of users' real-life appearance, as desired by older users.

Lisa Nakamura has suggested that customizable avatars in non-gaming worlds tend to be biased towards lighter skin colors and against darker skin colors, especially in those of the male gender. [24] In Second Life avatars are created by residents and take any form, and range from lifelike humans to robots, animals, plants and mythical creatures. Avatar customization is one of the most important entertainment aspects in non gaming virtual worlds, such as Second Life, IMVU, and Active Worlds. [25] Many virtual worlds are providing users with tools to customize their representations, allowing them to change shapes, hair, skins and also genre. Moreover, there is a growing secondary industry devoted to the creations of products and items for the avatars. Some companies have also launched social networks [26] and other websites for avatars such as Koinup, Myrl, and Avatars United.

Customization

Early examples of customizable avatars include multi-user systems, including MUDs. [27] Most forums use a small JPEG, Portable Network Graphics (PNG) or Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) file to display a small image next to posts from a user. Gaia Online has a customizable avatar where users can dress it up as desired. [28] Users may earn credits for completing sponsored surveys or certain tasks to purchase items and upgrades to customize their avatar. [29] Linden Lab's Second Life creates a virtual world in which avatars, homes, decorations, buildings and land are for sale. [30] Less-common items may be designed to appear better than common items, and an experienced player may be identified from a group of new characters before in-game statistics are seen. [27] Sherry Turkle described a middle-aged man who played an aggressive, confrontational female character in his online communities, displaying personality traits he was embarrassed to display in the offline world. [31] Research by Nick Yee of the Daedelus Project demonstrates that an avatar may differ considerably from a player's offline identity, based on gender. [32] However, most players will make an avatar that is (proportionately) equal to their height (or slightly taller). [32] Sherry Turkle has observed that some players seek an emotional connection they cannot establish in the real world. She described a case in which a man with a serious heart condition preventing him from ordinary socializing found acceptance and friendship through his online identity. [31] Others have pointed out similar findings in those with mental disorders making social interaction difficult, such as those with autism or similar disabilities. [33]

Academics

Avatars have become an area of study in the world of academics. The emergence of online avatars have implications[ according to whom? ] for domains of scholarly research such as technoself studies, which is concerned with all aspects of human identity in a technological society and also the social avatar and its effects upon the psyche. [34] Across the literature, scholars have focused on three overlapping aspects that influence users' perceptions of the social potential of avatars (Novak and Fox, 2018): agency, anthropomorphism, and realism. Following Novak and Fox (2018), researchers must differentiate perceived agency (whether or not an entity is perceived to be human), anthropomorphism (having human form or behavior), and realism (the perception that something could realistically or possibly exist in a non-mediated context). Perceived agency influences people's responses in the interaction regardless of who or what is actually controlling the representation. A meta-analysis of studies comparing agents and avatars (Fox et al., 2015) found that both agency and perceived agency mattered: representations controlled by humans were more persuasive than those controlled by bots, and representations believed to be controlled by humans were more persuasive than those believed to be controlled by bots. Researchers have investigated how anthropomorphic representations influence communicative outcomes and found that more human-like representations are judged more favorably; people consider them more attractive, credible, and competent (Westerman, Tamborini, & Bowman, 2015). Higher levels of anthropomorphism also lead to higher involvement, social presence, and communication satisfaction (Kang & Watt, 2013). Moreover, people communicate more naturally with more anthropomorphic avatars (Heyselaar, Hagoort, & Segaert, 2017). Anthropomorphism is also tied to social influence, as more human-like representations can be more persuasive (Gong, 2008).

Paul Hemp has written an article for the Harvard Business Review, where he analyses the effects of avatars on real-world business. He focuses on the game "Second Life", and shows that the creators of virtual avatars are willing to spend real money to purchase goods marketed solely to their virtual selves. [35]

The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication published a study of the reactions to certain types of avatars by a sample group of human users. The results showed that users commonly chose avatars which were humanoid and matched their gender. The conclusion was that in order to make users feel more "at home" in their avatars, designers should maximise the customizability of visual criteria common to humans, such as skin and hair color, gender, hair styles and height. [36]

Researchers at York University studied whether avatars reflected a user's real-life personality. [37] Student test groups were able to infer upon extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, but could not infer upon openness and conscientiousness. [37]

Social media

Another use of the avatar has emerged with the widespread use of social media platforms. There is a practice in social media sites: uploading avatars in place of real profile image. Profile picture is a distinct graphics that represent the identity of profile holder. It is usually the portrait of an individual, logo of an organization, organizational building or distinctive character of book, cover page etc. Using avatars as profile pictures can increase users' perceived level of social presence which in turn fosters reciprocity and sharing behavior in online environments. [38] According to MIT professor Sherry Turkle: "... we think we will be presenting ourselves, but our profile ends up as somebody else – often the fantasy of who we want to be". [39]

Cartoons and stories sometimes have a character based on their creator, either a fictionalised version (e.g. the Matt Groening character in some episodes of The Simpsons ) or an entirely fictional character (e.g. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series has been said [40] by J. K. Rowling to be based upon herself). Such characters are sometimes[ citation needed ] known as "author avatars".

Generators

To meet the demand for millions of unique, customised avatars, generator tools and services have been created. [41]

Portals

As avatars grow in use, services to centralize design, management and transportation of digital avatars start to appear.[ citation needed ] They can offer to deployed in virtual worlds, online games, social networks, video clips, greeting cards and mobile apps, as well as professional animation and pre-visualization projects. For example, Evolver seems to be the first solution to bring together complex 3D modeling, consumer ease of use and fully interoperable avatars. [42]

See also

Related Research Articles

The term chat room, or chatroom, is primarily used to describe any form of synchronous conferencing, occasionally even asynchronous conferencing. The term can thus mean any technology ranging from real-time online chat and online interaction with strangers to fully immersive graphical social environments.

<i>Snow Crash</i> science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash is a science fiction novel by American writer Neal Stephenson, published in 1992. Like many of Stephenson's other novels, it covers history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics and philosophy.

A virtual community is a social network of individuals who interact through specific social media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals. Some of the most pervasive virtual communities are online communities operating under social networking services.

<i>Second Life</i> 2003 video game

Second Life is an online virtual world, developed and owned by the San Francisco-based firm Linden Lab and launched on June 23, 2003. By 2013, Second Life had approximately one million regular users; at the end of 2017 active user count totals "between 800,000 and 900,000". In many ways, Second Life is similar to massively multiplayer online role-playing games; however, Linden Lab is emphatic that their creation is not a game: "There is no manufactured conflict, no set objective".

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment which may be populated by many users who can create a personal avatar, and simultaneously and independently explore the virtual world, participate in its activities and communicate with others. These avatars can be textual, two or three-dimensional graphical representations, or live video avatars with auditory and touch sensations. In general, virtual worlds allow for multiple users but single player computer games, such as Skyrim, can also be considered a type of virtual world.

<i>Furcadia</i> 1996 video game

Furcadia is a free-to-play MMOSG/MMORPG or graphical MUD, set in a fantasy world inhabited by magical creatures. The game is based on user-created content with emphasis on world building tools, exploring, socializing, and free-form roleplaying. Furcadia hosts a large volunteer program called the Beekin Helpers, allowing players to help with community moderation, welcoming new players, handling in-game technical support, running in game events, creating art for the game itself, accessing and updating the game's website, and bug hunting. Furcadia holds the Guinness World Records title for the longest continuously running social MMORPG and in addition to being one of the first games to heavily encourage modding and let users build virtual worlds for themselves, it was also one of the first freemium online games. In 2008, Furcadia was reported as having over 60,000 players.

Gaia Online

Gaia Online is an English-language, anime-themed social networking and forums-based website. It was founded as go-gaia on February 18, 2003, and the name was changed to GaiaOnline.com in 2004 by its owner, Gaia Interactive. Gaia originally began as an anime linklist and eventually developed a small community, but following a statement by founder Derek Liu, the website moved towards social gaming, and eventually became forum-based. In 2007, over a million posts were made daily, and 7 million unique users visited each month. Gaia also won the 2007 Webware 100 award in the Community category and was included in Time Magazine's list of 50 best websites in 2008. In January 2011, the company won the Mashable Best User experience Award for 2010.

Play-by-post role-playing game

A play-by-post role-playing game is an online text-based role-playing game in which players interact with each other and a predefined environment via text. It is a subset of the online role-playing community which caters to both gamers and creative writers. Play-by-post games may be based on other role-playing games, non-game fiction including books, television and movies, or original settings. This activity is closely related to both interactive fiction and collaborative writing. Compared to other roleplaying game formats, this type tends to have the loosest rulesets.

<i>Habitat</i> (video game) 1986 video game

Habitat is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by LucasArts. It is the first attempt at a large-scale commercial virtual community that was graphic based. Initially created in 1985 by Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar, the game was made available as a beta test in 1986 by Quantum Link, an online service for the Commodore 64 computer and the corporate progenitor to AOL. Both Farmer and Morningstar were given a First Penguin Award at the 2001 Game Developers Choice Awards for their innovative work on Habitat. As a graphical MUD it is considered a forerunner of modern MMORPGs unlike other online communities of the time. Habitat had a GUI and large user base of consumer-oriented users, and those elements in particular have made Habitat a much-cited project and acknowledged benchmark for the design of today's online communities that incorporate accelerated 3D computer graphics and immersive elements into their environments.


An online text-based role playing game is a role-playing game played online using a solely text-based interface. Online text-based role playing games date to 1978, with the creation of MUD1, which began the MUD heritage that culminates in today's MMORPGs. Some online-text based role playing games are video games, but some are organized and played entirely by humans through text-based communication. Over the years, games have used TELNET, internet forums, IRC, email and social networking websites as their media.

The Metaverse is a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet. The word metaverse is a portmanteau of the prefix "meta" and "universe" and is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.

Internet identity (IID), also online identity or internet persona, is a social identity that an Internet user establishes in online communities and websites. It can also be considered as an actively constructed presentation of oneself. Although some people choose to use their real names online, some Internet users prefer to be anonymous, identifying themselves by means of pseudonyms, which reveal varying amounts of personally identifiable information. An online identity may even be determined by a user's relationship to a certain social group they are a part of online. Some can even be deceptive about their identity.

A wordfilter is a script typically used on Internet forums or chat rooms that automatically scans users' posts or comments as they are submitted and automatically changes or censors particular words or phrases.

Microsoft V-Chat

Microsoft V-Chat is a freeware 3D chat program released in December 1995 by Microsoft. V-Chat is a multi-user social chat client that lets people interact online from within a 2D or 3D multimedia environment using graphical representations of themselves known as avatars. V-Chat avatars have a full range of gestures that allow users to fully express themselves online. V-Chat enables users to select from a wide variety of existing avatars, or create custom avatars using the V-Chat Avatar Wizard. Sounds, animations, and visual imagery create mood and context for these graphical social environments.

Ai Space is a Japanese virtual 3D massively multiplayer online social game (MMOSG) developed by several companies that formed the Ai Space Production Committee which was launched on October 15, 2008 for Windows PCs, despite an earlier announcement of a Q3 2008 release. Beta testing commenced between mid-September and mid-October 2008. Primary development was handled by Headlock, and Dwango provided the world's infrastructure and Internet service. Dwango's subsidiary Niwango tied in the Nico Nico Anime Channel from the Nico Nico Douga video sharing website which provided users the opportunity to upload gameplay sequences online. The game closed down on June 30, 2011.

Cyberformance refers to live theatrical performances in which remote participants are enabled to work together in real time through the medium of the internet, employing technologies such as chat applications or purpose-built, multiuser, real-time collaborative software. Cyberformance is also known as online performance, networked performance, telematic performance, and digital theatre; there is as yet no consensus on which term should be preferred, but cyberformance has the advantage of compactness. For example, it is commonly employed by users of the UpStage platform to designate a special type of Performance art activity taking place in a cyber-artistic environment.

Social interactions in MMORPGS take the form of in-game communication, virtual behaviors, and the development of interpersonal and group relationships. In massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), cooperation between players to accomplish difficult tasks is often an integral mechanic of gameplay, and organized groups of players, often called guilds, clans, or factions, emerge. Sometimes the relationships players from within the game spill over into friendships or romantic relationships in the material world. In other instances, romantic partners and groups of material world friends find that playing together strengthens their bonds.

Worlds Chat is an on-line virtual reality based chat program introduced in April 1995 by the company Worlds Inc. and as of May 2019 is currently online. At the time of Worlds Chat's release, Worlds Inc. was in its second year of existence and already a leader in creating virtual workspace environment having created virtual meeting spaces for clients such as Sprint, Intel, and UB Networks. Worlds Chat was the first program they made available to the general public and it was offered free of charge for download from their website. The popularity of the program and Worlds Inc.'s other successes, such as Tamiko Thiel's work with Steven Spielberg to create Starbright World, allowed Worlds Inc. to procure a minority investment of $5.6m from Pearson plc in June 1995.

Computer-generated imagery Application of computer graphics to create or contribute to images

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the application of computer graphics to create or contribute to images in art, printed media, video games, films, television programs, shorts, commercials, videos, and simulators. The visual scenes may be dynamic or static and may be two-dimensional (2D), though the term "CGI" is most commonly used to refer to 3D computer graphics used for creating scenes or special effects in films and television. Additionally, the use of 2D CGI is often mistakenly referred to as "traditional animation", most often in the case when dedicated animation software such as Adobe Flash or Toon Boom is not used or the CGI is hand drawn using a tablet and mouse.

References

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Further reading

Avatars at Curlie