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An avatar is for life, not just for Christmas

This is an interesting piece of futurologist chin-strokery. Yes, it’s fairly redundant posturing about the horrendously over-exposed but under-subscribed Second Life (an abberation of a marketing tool on which there’s something of a moratorium on RPS) beyond the introductory paragraph, but that first statement – soon there will be more avatars than real people – is a fascinating concept.

” Gartner research indicates that in four years’ time 80% of internet users will have avatars – virtual replicas of themselves – working or playing online. Given the pace of internet adoption, and the fact that people often have more than one avatar, there will soon be more avatars than humans, at least in the industrialised world.”
– Victor Keegan, The Guardian

It’s people creating fake shells for themselves, idealised versions to be discarded once they’re bored, or once something with superior technology comes along. Of course it happens – there’s any number of MMOs I’ve abandoned – but the fact that it’s happening with so many people now… It’s means there’s all these digital spectres, partial identities existing only as numbers on a server. They can’t be killed, not yet, because there’s a principle – what if someday I want to go back? I can’t help but imagine a ghost world of floating orcs and wizards and space marines and large-breasted strippers and spaceships – personalities cast adrift, but left in limbo forever.

…Sorry. Bioshock’s making me all fanciful.

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Alec Meer

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Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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