- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. Adobe Reader
  2. Adware
  3. Altavista
  4. AOL
  5. Apple Macintosh
  6. Application software
  7. Arrow key
  8. Artificial Intelligence
  9. ASCII
  10. Assembly language
  11. Automatic translation
  12. Avatar
  13. Babylon
  14. Bandwidth
  15. Bit
  16. BitTorrent
  17. Black hat
  18. Blog
  19. Bluetooth
  20. Bulletin board system
  21. Byte
  22. Cache memory
  23. Celeron
  24. Central processing unit
  25. Chat room
  26. Client
  27. Command line interface
  28. Compiler
  29. Computer
  30. Computer bus
  31. Computer card
  32. Computer display
  33. Computer file
  34. Computer games
  35. Computer graphics
  36. Computer hardware
  37. Computer keyboard
  38. Computer networking
  39. Computer printer
  40. Computer program
  41. Computer programmer
  42. Computer science
  43. Computer security
  44. Computer software
  45. Computer storage
  46. Computer system
  47. Computer terminal
  48. Computer virus
  49. Computing
  50. Conference call
  51. Context menu
  52. Creative commons
  53. Creative Commons License
  54. Creative Technology
  55. Cursor
  56. Data
  57. Database
  58. Data storage device
  59. Debuggers
  60. Demo
  61. Desktop computer
  62. Digital divide
  63. Discussion groups
  64. DNS server
  65. Domain name
  66. DOS
  67. Download
  68. Download manager
  69. DVD-ROM
  70. DVD-RW
  71. E-mail
  72. E-mail spam
  73. File Transfer Protocol
  74. Firewall
  75. Firmware
  76. Flash memory
  77. Floppy disk drive
  78. GNU
  79. GNU General Public License
  80. GNU Project
  81. Google
  82. Google AdWords
  83. Google bomb
  84. Graphics
  85. Graphics card
  86. Hacker
  87. Hacker culture
  88. Hard disk
  89. High-level programming language
  90. Home computer
  91. HTML
  92. Hyperlink
  93. IBM
  94. Image processing
  95. Image scanner
  96. Instant messaging
  97. Instruction
  98. Intel
  99. Intel Core 2
  100. Interface
  101. Internet
  102. Internet bot
  103. Internet Explorer
  104. Internet protocols
  105. Internet service provider
  106. Interoperability
  107. IP addresses
  108. IPod
  109. Joystick
  110. JPEG
  111. Keyword
  112. Laptop computer
  113. Linux
  114. Linux kernel
  115. Liquid crystal display
  116. List of file formats
  117. List of Google products
  118. Local area network
  119. Logitech
  120. Machine language
  121. Mac OS X
  122. Macromedia Flash
  123. Mainframe computer
  124. Malware
  125. Media center
  126. Media player
  127. Megabyte
  128. Microsoft
  129. Microsoft Windows
  130. Microsoft Word
  131. Mirror site
  132. Modem
  133. Motherboard
  134. Mouse
  135. Mouse pad
  136. Mozilla Firefox
  137. Mp3
  138. MPEG
  139. MPEG-4
  140. Multimedia
  141. Musical Instrument Digital Interface
  142. Netscape
  143. Network card
  144. News ticker
  145. Office suite
  146. Online auction
  147. Online chat
  148. Open Directory Project
  149. Open source
  150. Open source software
  151. Opera
  152. Operating system
  153. Optical character recognition
  154. Optical disc
  155. output
  156. PageRank
  157. Password
  158. Pay-per-click
  159. PC speaker
  160. Peer-to-peer
  161. Pentium
  162. Peripheral
  163. Personal computer
  164. Personal digital assistant
  165. Phishing
  166. Pirated software
  167. Podcasting
  168. Pointing device
  169. POP3
  170. Programming language
  171. QuickTime
  172. Random access memory
  173. Routers
  174. Safari
  175. Scalability
  176. Scrollbar
  177. Scrolling
  178. Scroll wheel
  179. Search engine
  180. Security cracking
  181. Server
  182. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
  183. Skype
  184. Social software
  185. Software bug
  186. Software cracker
  187. Software library
  188. Software utility
  189. Solaris Operating Environment
  190. Sound Blaster
  191. Soundcard
  192. Spam
  193. Spamdexing
  194. Spam in blogs
  195. Speech recognition
  196. Spoofing attack
  197. Spreadsheet
  198. Spyware
  199. Streaming media
  200. Supercomputer
  201. Tablet computer
  202. Telecommunications
  203. Text messaging
  204. Trackball
  205. Trojan horse
  206. TV card
  207. Unicode
  208. Uniform Resource Identifier
  209. Unix
  210. URL redirection
  211. USB flash drive
  212. USB port
  213. User interface
  214. Vlog
  215. Voice over IP
  216. Warez
  217. Wearable computer
  218. Web application
  219. Web banner
  220. Web browser
  221. Web crawler
  222. Web directories
  223. Web indexing
  224. Webmail
  225. Web page
  226. Website
  227. Wiki
  228. Wikipedia
  229. WIMP
  230. Windows CE
  231. Windows key
  232. Windows Media Player
  233. Windows Vista
  234. Word processor
  235. World Wide Web
  236. Worm
  237. XML
  238. X Window System
  239. Yahoo
  240. Zombie computer

This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

Avatar (icon)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Avatar (virtual reality))
For other uses, see Avatar (disambiguation).

An avatar (abbreviations include AV, ava, avy and avvie) is an Internet user's representation of himself or herself, whether in the form of a three-dimensional model used in computer games,[1] a two-dimensional icon used on Internet forums and other communities,[2][3] or a text construct found on early systems such as MUDs. The term "avatar" can also refer to the personality connected with the screen name, or handle, of an Internet user.[4]


The "avatar" derives from the Sanskrit word Avatāra, meaning "incarnation" and usually implying a deliberate descent into mortal realms for special purposes. The term is used primarily in Hindu texts, in reference to incarnations of Vishnu the Preserver, whom many Hindus worship as God. The Dasavatara are ten particular "great" incarnations of Vishnu.

Computer games

As used for a computer representation of a user, the term dates at least as far back as 1985, when it was used as the name for the player character in the Ultima series of computer games. The Ultima games started out in 1981, but it was in Ultima IV (1985), that the term "avatar" was introduced. To become the "avatar" was the goal of Ultima IV. The later games assumed that you were the avatar and "avatar" was the player's visual on-screen in-game persona. The on-screen representation could be customized in appearance. Later, the term "avatar" was used by the designers of the role-playing game Shadowrun (1989), as well as in the online role-playing game Habitat (1987).

Neal Stephenson

The use of Avatar to mean online virtual bodies was popularised by Neal Stephenson in his cyberpunk novel Snow Crash (1992). [5] In Snow Crash, the term Avatar was used to describe the virtual simulation of the human form in the Metaverse, a virtual-reality version of the Internet. Social status within the Metaverse was often based on the quality of a user's avatar, as a highly detailed avatar showed that the user was a skilled hacker and programmer while the less talented would buy off-the-shelf models in the same manner a forumer would today. Stephenson wrote in the "Acknowledgments" to Snow Crash:

The idea of a 'virtual reality' such as the Metaverse is by now widespread in the computer-graphics community and is being implemented in a number of different ways. The particular vision of the Metaverse as expressed in this novel originated from idle discussion between me and Jaime (Captain Bandwidth)Taffe...The words 'avatar' (in the sense used here) and 'Metaverse' are my inventions, which I came up with when I decided that existing words (such as 'virtual reality') were simply too awkward to use...after the first publication of 'Snow Crash' I learned that the term 'avatar' has actually been in use for a number of years as part of a virtual reality system called 'Habitat' addition to avatars, Habitat includes many of the basic features of the Metaverse as described in this book,[6]

Avatars on internet forums

Example of an avatar as used on Internet forums. Notable features include decorative border and small (100x100px) size.
Example of an avatar as used on Internet forums. Notable features include decorative border and small (100x100px) size.

Despite the widespread use of avatars, it is unknown which Internet forums were the first to use them; the earliest forums did not include avatars as a default feature, and they were included in unofficial "hacks" before eventually being made standard. Avatars on Internet forums serve the purpose of representing users and their actions, personalizing their contributions to the forum, and may represent different parts of their persona or social status in the forum.

The traditional avatar system used on most Internet forums is a small (100x100 pixels, for example) square-shaped area close to the user's forum post, where the avatar is placed. Some forums allow the user to upload an avatar image that may have been designed by the user or acquired from elsewhere. Other forums allow the user to select an avatar from a preset list or use an auto-discovery algorithm to extract one from the user's homepage.

Other avatar systems exist, such as on Gaia Online, where a pixelized representation of a person or creature is used, which can then be customized to the user's wishes.

Avatars in internet chat

In 1995, KeepTalking, a product of UNET2 Corporation, was one of the first companies to implement an avatar system into their chat software.

In 1996, Microsoft Comic Chat an IRC client that used cartoon avatars for chatting, was released.

Avatars in instant-messaging programs

A 50x50 avatar.
A 50x50 avatar.

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was the first popular instant-messaging program to use avatars, picking up on the idea from PC games. However, users of AIM commonly refer to avatars as buddy icons. Today, many popular instant-messaging clients use avatars, including Trillian, Gaim, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger.

Instant messaging avatars are usually very small. AIM icons are 48x48 pixels, although many icons can be found online that measure 50x50 pixels. These icons look distorted when AIM resizes them for display.

AIM buddy icons have been used as an experimental form of viral marketing by some advertising firms.[7]

Avatars in art

In 2006, Russian sociologist Vladislav Sychev (aka "riser," from livejournal) made two shot movies from MySpace and the livejournal blognet, both of which implemented avatars. He called those movies "FAQing smoke" and "Bu!". A later movie from riser was called Iconography/1 [1]. 50 min. psychodelic movie had about 2000 avatars and was the perfect sociology presentation of the blogosphere.


Avatars in games

CodeRED: Alien Arena contains a wide selection of player avatars
CodeRED: Alien Arena contains a wide selection of player avatars

Avatars in video games are essentially the player's physical representation in the game world. In most games, the player's representation is fixed, however increasingly games offer a basic character model, or template, and then allow customization of the physical features as the player sees fit. For example, Carl Johnson, the avatar from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, can be dressed in a wide range of clothing, can be given tattoos and haircuts, and can even body build or become obese depending upon player actions.[8]

Aside from an avatar's physical appearance, its dialogue, particularly in cut scenes, may also reveal something of its character. A good example is the crude, action hero stereotype, Duke Nukem.[9] Other avatars, such as Gordon Freeman (from Half-Life), reveal very little of themselves.

Avatars in non-gaming universes

Avatars in non-gaming universes are used as two-dimensional or three-dimensional human or fantastic representations of a person's self. Such representations can explore the virtual universe with which they are in using their avatar, add to it, or conduct conversations with other users, and can be customized by the user. Usually, the purpose and appeal of such non-gaming universes is to provide a large enhancement to common online conversation capabilities, and to allow the user to peacefully develop a portion of a non-gaming universe without being forced to strive towards a pre-defined goal.[10]

The criteria avatars in non-gaming universes have to fulfill, in order to become useful, can depend to a great extent on, for example, the age of potential users. Research suggests that younger users of virtual communities put great emphasis on fun and entertainment aspects of avatars, as well as on their practical functionalities (e.g. whispering). Younger users are furthermore interested in the simple ease of use of avatars, and their ability to retain the userís anonymity. Meanwhile, older users pay great importance to an avatarís ability to reflect their own appearance, identity and personality. Additionally, the majority of older users want to be able to make use of an avatarís expressive functionalities (e.g. showing emotions), while being prepared to learn new methods of navigation, in order to handle the use of more complex avatars. Social scientists at Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab [11] are examining the implications, possibilities, and transformations that occur when people interact via avatars.

Avatar-based non-gaming universes are usually populated by those age groups, whose requirements concerning avatars are fulfilled. The majority of users of Habbo Hotel, for example, are of the age of 10 to 15. The reason for this might well be found in the properties and functionalities provided by the avatars of this virtual community. In contrast, There has a target audience ranging from the age of 22 to 49. The avatars incorporated into this immersive environment allow for a wide range of social interactions, including the expression of emotions. Another example is The Palace, where the majority of users seem to belong to an older age group. Here, users have the option to use their own images as avatars. This functionality turns the avatar into a direct reflection of their real-life appearance, a feature most desired by members of older age groups. Again, the population of the non-gaming universe seems to be largely determined by the properties and functionalities of its avatars. This is less true of Second Life, where avatars range from lifelike humans to robots to furry animals. The main Second Life grid is open only to adults, and participation is driven by social, artistic and commercial motivations.

Lisa Nakamura and other researchers have suggested that customizable avatars in non-gaming worlds tend to be biased towards lighter skin colors and against minorities, especially male minorities.[12]


  1. ^ Lessig, Lawrence. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. Basic Books, 2000. ISBN 0-465-03913-8
  2. ^ Fink, Jeri. Cyberseduction: Reality in the Age of Psychotechnology. Prometheus Books, 1999. ISBN 1-57392-743-0
  3. ^ Blackwood, Kevin. Casino Gambling For Dummies. For Dummies, 2006. p.284. ISBN 0-471-75286-X
  4. ^ Jordan, Tim. Cyberpower: The Culture and Politics of Cyberspace and the Internet. Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-17078-8
  5. ^
  6. ^ Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash. New York: Bantam, 2003 (reissue). pp. 469-70.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Damer, Bruce. Avatars: Exploring and Building Virtual Worlds on the Internet. Peachpit Press, 1997. ISBN 0-201-68840-9
  11. ^
  12. ^ Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-93836-8

See also

  • Hackergotchi
  • Resident (Second Life)
  • Entropia Universe
  • Vismon
  • Yahoo! Avatars
  • IMVU
  • X-Face
  • Virtual model
  • Virtual artifact
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