Perception of Avatars

Alot of my research centers around the construction and maintenance of avatars in video games. There has been alot written about the desire for female gamers to have avatar options in single player games that represent them in game play. Although Lara Croft offered them a female avatar to navigate, there has been rumblings about her over the top design, being more for the male players than for the female players.

But this isnt really my point. Again, on the dance dance revolution note – the other night (of which the last 2 posts are based on) there was a bit of an avatar disagreement between myself and my oldest daughter. When we were selecting the avatars to be displayed on the screen, I had asked her to set it to female avatar rotation only. For myself, this was a gendered decision – I am a female and therefore saw the avatar on the screen as some sort of representation of myself within the gamespace (no matter how animated). My daughter – in stark contrast, fought for the male avatar rotation only (cause they are cute to look at). For her, the avatar on the screen was a spectacle, for me a representation of self. Humourously, when I made my request for an all female case, my daughter inquired if i was “switching”! (sexually speaking of course).

Which made me come back to the idea that (*warning: broad, sweeping generalization to follow) men prefered avatars they could watch. We see this alot in mmo’s where guys choose female avatars that are hot and many have claimed to me that ‘if i am going to play 30 hours+ a week, i want a hot booty to look at’. Often, women choose avatars that represent themselves (whether consciously of subconsciously) or they choose a male avatar to avoid the sexualized social interaction that often happens when playing a female avatar.

So, with my daughter’s reaction to my desire to have an all female DDR cast, I wonder, does the desire to represent ourselves online and in game spaces a generational thing?

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