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.


  1. Rachel says:

    If only SL were more under-subscribed, the lag would effect me less. :(

    The idea that one day, I’d be able to import one avatar from one system into another is something I’ve been wanting for a long time. As it is, I have to recreate myself as consistantly as I can wherever I go, which does get a bit old after a while.

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    I think part of the excitement of online games is seeing what options they offer for creation. The capacity of Age Of Conan to create ghastly-looking thugs, for example, can be found nowhere else.

    And i hear you on the over-subscribed thing. Eve Online has a similar problem – it’s impossible to find a quiet place to chill out these days, with the concurrent population having rocketed from 3k-6k in the first couple of years, to 30k a night.

  3. Chris Keegan says:

    If aliens are trying to make first contact with us, the net is gonna be one of the first things they start to decode and stuff.
    All of our Alts are gonna complicate things a great deal. They are not gonna know who to speak to first. This really troubles me.

    PS Its great to see my old papa is quoted on PRS (rockpaperslippers) :)