CFP ECREA 2010 Preconference: Avatars and Humans

I was hoping to go to AoIR this October in Sweden – but after seeing this CFP, I might have to take my October travel voucher to Hamburg, Germany. After reading the cfp (posted below), I said to myself that this is “my” conference, how could I not submit/go!? Would be the perfect place to flesh out some of the issues I am having post proposal defense (there is a doctoral round-table section) – or even as a place to present my framework as a foundation for thinking about the avatar/human relationship…

CALL FOR PAPERS

AVATARS AND HUMANS. REPRESENTING USERS IN DIGITAL GAMES

Preconference to the ECREA 2010 – 3rd European Communication Conference
12 October 2010, Hamburg, Germany

http://www.ecrea2010hamburg.eu

==Topic & Questions==

With the rise of digital interactive media, “avatars” – computer
generated visual representations of users  – have become a crucial link
between users and the digital spaces they navigate. While the term
“avatar” reaches back to Hinduist scriptures ca. 200 BC, and the use of
player representations in games can be traced to the earliest known
games played more than 4.000 years ago, it was only in 1985 that the
multi-user domain Habitat introduced the term for user representations
in virtual worlds. Today, avatars are used in digital games as well as
e-commerce applications, social virtual environments, virtual meetings
and conferences, and many more digital spaces and applications.

However, avatars are not just an interface users manipulate to access
and act in digital spaces – avatars and their human users form complex
relationships. For instance, avatars may represent the users’ own or
created identity, users may develop an emotional attachment or
parasocial relation to their avatars, or the design or activities of an
avatar may infringe rights or develop an economic value.

For the pre-conference “Avatars and Humans”, we encourage submissions
from all disciplinary and methodological backgrounds on the complex
relations between avatars and their users. Submissions might address,
but are not limited to the following topics and questions:

* Creating and Using Avatars: How and why do we create avatars, what are
the motives and effects of specific kinds of avatars and avatar usage?
Do we create avatars similar or dissimilar to us? What kinds of in-game
avatars and avatar features enhance or delimit qualities of user
experience, such as presence, immersion or enjoyment?

* My Avatar and Me: How might we describe the (long-term) relationship
between users and their avatars? Which factors influence the users’
identification with and emotional attachment to their avatars?

* The (Para-)Sociality of Avatars: Which social psychological factors
affect our (avatar’s) interaction with other avatars, either controlled
by users or an algorithm?

* Avatars and Profiles: How do avatar-based interactive spaces and the
(mostly) „profile-based” spaces of social network sites and social media
relate, especially in regard to matters of identity and relationship
management? Can we observe a growing convergence or interdependence of
the two?

* Analyzing Avatars: Exploring the user-avatar relationship also
requires the description of the avatar itself. What are the relevant
properties of avatars? Which analytical instruments can and should be
employed for systematic descriptions, codings, analyses of avatars?

* Coding Avatars: As computer-generated representations of users,
avatars have to be designed and coded, which puts important material
constraints and preconditions on potential user-avatar relations. Which
factors afford or constraint the customizability and variability of
avatars? Which models of artifical intelligence guide the simulated
behaviour of computer-controlled avatars?

* Avatar Rights and Regulations: People invest time and sometimes
sizeable amounts of money in their avatars, and avatars develop
reputations that might radiate on their users (or vice versa). Put
differently, users develop vested interests in their avatars, and
avatars develop an „avatar biography”: Do we need specific “avatar
rights” to protect the histories, experiences and reputation of avatars?
Which virtual as well as real-life circumstances are neccessary to
govern avatars effectively?

* Behind and Beyond the Avatar: Which social and cultural processes take
place between individuals, avatars and the communities they play in? How
do the performances, gestures and emotions of avatars affect community
building or the emergence of public communication in game worlds as well
as everyday social behavior and society and vice versa? Does
avatar-based interaction show the same social dynamics like face-to-face
interaction (social control, negotiation, face work etc.), or does it
differ – and how?

* Methodology of Avatar Research: Which paradigms and instruments might
be applied to research concerning the above questions? What is the
specific potential, what are possible obstacles of methodological and/or
ethical nature when researching avatars?

==Link==

For further details, see the website and download the Call for Papers at:
http://bit.ly/ECREAgames

==Sumbission==

All abstracts should be submitted through the ECREA 2010 website no
later than: 30 April 2010.

Please note that this submission deadline will not be extended!

Online submission system opens in January 2010 at
http://www.ecrea2010hamburg.eu.

To avoid technical problems, early submission is strongly encouraged.

==Timeline==

* Deadline for submission of abstracts: April 30, 2010.
* Notification of acceptance: May 31, 2010
* Submission of Full Papers: September 15, 2010
* Early Bird Get together: October 11, 2010
* Pre-Conference: October 12, 2010 December 2009: Online submission
system open

==Local Organizers==

Hamburg Media School, Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research, Ilmenau
University of Technology

==Venue==

The pre-conference will take place at:

Hamburg Media School
Finkenau 35
D-22081 Hamburg, Germany

==Contact==

Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt
Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research
Warburgstr. 8-10, D-20354 Hamburg, Germany
j.schmidt@hans-bredow-institut.de
http://www.hans-bredow-institut.de/en

Prof. Dr. Sabine Trepte
Hamburg Media School
Finkenau 35, D-22081 Hamburg, Germany
s.trepte@hamburgmediaschool.com
http://www.hamburgmediaschool.com/english

Prof. Dr. Jeffrey Wimmer
Ilmenau University of Technology
Ehrenbergstr. 29, D-98693 Ilmenau, Germany
jeffrey.wimmer@tu-ilmenau.de
http://www.tu-ilmenau.de/fakmn/Virtuelle-Welten-Dig.vwds.0.html

============================================================
Sebastian Deterding              | Research Assistant
Hans-Bredow-Institut für Medienforschung
Dependance, Warburgstraße 8-10, D-20354 Hamburg, Germany
Mail: sebastian@codingconduct.cc | Twitter: dingstweets
Blog: http://codingconduct.cc | Skype: sebastiandeterding
Mobile: +49 160 972 06 742       | Phone: +49 040 450 217 91
============================================================

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