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Alter Ego Exhibit - Avatars Revealed

Earlier this month, an exhibition of avatars and their real-life counterparts opened in London. Photo-journalist Robbie Cooper wanted to see if there was any relationship between the real lives and the virtual lives of gamers.

"It seemed really fascinating that there were people interacting in these environments and getting to know each other through avatars," Mr Cooper explained to BBC News Online.

"They did not actually see each other, they were interacting with a likeness of a character they played or something that wasn't real."
(From BBC)

The exhibition consists of thirty pairs of pictures. Jason, shown below, has severe muscular dystrophy and can only move his thumb. But his avatar bladerunner has made friends online; games are his "window on the world."


(From BBC)

Raelynn and Jason live in different states here in the US. But most evenings, when they go online, they live together in a virtual house as Vegan and Dindas.


(From Alter Ego)

Cooper focused his attention on massively multi-player online role-playing games. He found that the more control players have over how the avatar looks, the more likely there is a noticeable echo of the person in the avatar.

The use of the term avatar for an online character was popularized by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. An avatar is an incarnation of a deity in human form; the literal meaning of the Sanskrit word is "he passes or crosses down."

Found at Terra Nova; see also BBC and the Alter Ego Exhibit website.

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