Video Game Avatar: From Other to Self-Transcendence and Transformation

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The aim of this paper is to establish a model for the relationship between the player of a video game and the avatar that represents that player in the virtual world of the video game. I propose that there is an evolution in the identification of the player of a video game with the avatar character that performs embodied actions in the virtual world of the game. This identification can be described through an examination of theories from a variety of subject areas including philosophy, literary studies, video game theory, and educational theory. Specifically, theories in hermeneutics, literary immersion, embodiment, empathy, narrative, game ego, play, and learning theory are synthesized to produce a broad picture of the player/avatar relationship as it develops over time. I will identify three stages in the process of feeling immersed in a game. This feeling of immersion can, but may not necessarily will, occur as the player engages in game play over a period of time. I will identify this process in three stages. I will call the first stage “other”; the second stage “immersion”; and the third stage “self-transcendence.” In this final stage, the avatar does not merely represent the player in a virtual world, but can become so relevant that it moves the player to a state of self-transcendence. At this point, the game play can offer a critique of the player’s worldview, to call into question the player’s approach and event presuppositions about the world. A result of this critique is a transformation that takes place within the player that may actually transform one’s self-understanding, thus providing the player with an authentic learning experience.

Keywords: Literary Immersion, Virtual Worlds, Gaming Pedagogy, Avatar, Presence, Video Game Theory, Play, Self-Transcendence Through Play, Empathy, Embodiment, Self, Other, Learning Theory, Narrative Theory, Hermeneutics, Game Ego
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Mary Tripp

Graduate Student, Department of English
Department of Philosophy, University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL, USA

Mary Tripp is currently a graduate student in the Texts and Technology PhD. program at the University of Central Florida. She has been an instructor of English and Humanities at Valencia Community College, Seminole Community College, and the University of Central Florida since 2001. Her fields of study include hermeneutics, narrative theory, video game theory, humanities, and learning theory. She has earned a Bachelor of Science in English Education from the University of Central Florida and Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Rollins College. Mrs. Tripp has taught all levels from preschool through college since 1987. Mary has been a lifelong resident of Central Florida and is married with three daughters and a very large black Labrador retriever. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Tripp volunteers with local public schools in various capacities, but especially in music programs, as well as working as a catechist at her church.

Ref: T08P0217