“AVATAR”: Keywords for Video Game Studies Working Group, 1/19, 3:30 PM, CMU 202

Keywords for Video Game Studies Graduate Interest Group
Wednesday, January 19
3:30-5:30 PM
Communication (CMU) 202

Raph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design and lead designer of Ultima Online, and creative director of Star Wars Galaxies, argues in his polemical “A Declaration of the Rights of Avatars” that “avatars are the manifestation of actual people in an online medium, and that their utterances, actions, thoughts, and emotions should be considered to be as valid as the utterances, actions, thoughts, and emotions of people in any other forum, venue, location, or space.” How might we use this provocation as jumping off point to think about the mediating forms and functions of video game avatars? How might we interrogate avatars as extensions, prostheses of the player(s)? Are avatars just fantasy and window dressing, immune to social, cultural, and “real life” critiques and analyses? What happens in the leaky intertwingling of VR and RL? We will read Koster’s “A Declaration,” as well as Lisa Nakamura’s “Cyberrace” and Bonnie A. Nardi’s anthropological account of gender in World of Warcraft. Our gamic texts for this meeting will include World of Warcraft, Second Life, Nintendo Miis, and Xbox LIVE avatars. We will also include two short stories by Maureen McHugh.

For more information and an introduction to the session:

The Keywords for Video Game Studies working group, in collaboration with the Critical Gaming Project at the University of Washington and the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC), is supported by the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

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