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Avatar Impotence: On 'User Will,' 'Avatar Agency,' and 'System Control' in Second Life

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3 Author(s)
Ruzanka, S. ; Dept. of the Arts Rensselaer, Polytech. Inst., Troy, NY, USA ; Chang, B. ; Behar, K.

Virtual worlds often contain an underlying philosophy of idealism. This idealism can take many forms, from the construction of new self-identities to the creation of utopian societies. At its extreme, idealism fuels a drive to transcend the limitations of physical reality and the physical body by finding a new home in virtual environments. We contend, however, that the further evolution of virtual worlds requires a move beyond idealism and into a more complex and nuanced relationship between user, avatar, and environment. In this paper we present a theoretical framework for understanding the operation of idealism in virtual worlds through a potency complex centered on the avatar as the link between the human user and the virtual environment. We introduce the concept of the unintentional at the center of the issue of potency, and describe an art project in Second Life that re-introduces different forms of unintentionality to create an alternative to idealism.

Published in:

Cyberworlds (CW), 2011 International Conference on

Date of Conference:

4-6 Oct. 2011

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