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Maya Ann Rhodes

Maharaj

Writing 10

March 22, 2012


Videogames and Avatars

Main
Thesis:

Avatars allow a gamer to become something that they are not, yet aspire to be.
The ability to create an avatar that does not reflect a gamer’s

true self distorts the sense of self
that hum
ans are innately endowed with. Men and women who play video games are almost
pressured into creating beautiful, yet inaccurate representations of themselves through avatars
because of the media surround beauty

standards.

According to the Hindu meaning of the word, an avatar is a “bodily manifestation of an immortal
being” (Waggoner 489). In this case, the immortal being this definition refers to is a person’s
interpretation of their inner self. The bodily mani
festation, then, would be the avatar that this
person creates. But this avatar almost never looks like the gamer behind it. An average gamer
creates an avatar, similar to the archetypes described in Craig and Dickerman’s articles. Female
gamers want an ava
tar that is physically attractive, white, with a nice body, long hair and big
breasts, very similar to a “Man’s Woman”. Male gamers generally tend to create similar, yet well
defined masculine avatars that are also usually white, with short, blond or black

hair, fitting the
“Man’s Man” archetype. As Harris states in his article, however, people are beginning to rely
more on the virtual world for excitement rather than the real world. Using this argument, there is
nothing wrong with having an avatar that doe
sn’t reflect a person’s real self. Ponzer’s article
blames the desire to create these unrealistic avatars, or avatars that don’t reflect a person’s true
identity on advertisement and the media. The article focuses purely on women, however, can be
extended
to men when considered the different advertisement companies. Ponzer argues that
men are the reason why women feel as though they always need to make themselves more
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2


attractive. The same can also be said about media, and making men feel pressured to make
t
hemselves more attractive. Both cases support the main idea of Waggoner’s article.

For a counter argument, I am going to emphasize the concept of choice. Gamers choose what
their avatars look like, and could make a realistic avatar if desired. It is the c
hoice of the gamers
to synthesize an avatar that follows a particular archetype. Society is not at fault for creating this
archetype, and neither is the media for advertising their products in the most effective way
possible.

Annotated Bibliography


Craig
, Steve. “Men’s Men and Women’s Women.”
Signs of Life in the USA
. Ed. Sonia Maasik

and Jack Solomon. B
oston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2005
. 187
-
198. Print.


Thesis:
Gender plays a major role in how products are advertised, and has over, the

years come to set

an example for modern day society to follow.


Craig’s article clearly defines one of the main claims of this proposal; Gender stereotypes

are the basis on which avatars are built. In his

article, Craig outlines the differences

between what women want i
n men, and what men want in women. He also goes so far as

to give examples of ideal characteristics of a person within the same gender as another.

These differences are the reason why a gamer is so different from their avatar. This

article also serves a
s a great guideline for how avatars are created. For example, in

Craig’s article, he defines Men’s Women as “physically attractive, slim, and usually

young and white, frequently blond, and almost always dressed in revealing clothing”

(Craig, 192). Anyon
e could go into an online video game server, and see that most

female

avatars on the server fit this description. The purpose of these avatars, in most social

video games, is to attract males. One might argue, however, that the main premise of an

avatar

is to look like the person behind it. This is almost never the case, because a female
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3



gamer would much rather fit Craig’s description of a man’s woman. This is also true,

when looking at avatars created by male gamers. Instead, a male gamer’s avatar usu
ally

resembles Men’s Men, which are usually, according to Craig, young, white, also blond,

and slender.
(Craig 190). Not all gamers fit this stereotype, yet they create avatars that do,

just to make themselves feel attractive; even if this attractiveness is only in a virtual

world.

Dickerman, Charles, Jeff Christensen, and Stella Beatriz Kerl
-
McClain. “Big Breasts and Bad

Guys: Depictions of Gender and Race in Video Games.”
Journal of C
reativity in Mental

Health
3. 1 (2008): 20
-
29. Web. 21 Mar. 2012


Thesis:
Gender and race stereotypes are an integral part of videogames that have a

tendency to distort the social views of the youth that play them.


In this article, the authors did their

best to encompass every racial and sexually stereotype

there is in the gaming world. If a gamer does not get to create his or her own avatar, then

gameplay will revolve around a premade character. This premade character is based on

the male or female archetype, depending on the character’s gender. If it is male, then the

protagonist of the game is usually buff (most of the time grossly so), with a deep,

commanding voice and some sort of special power, or obscene strength. Female

p
rotagonists have giant, unproportional breasts, wear tight or latex clothing that shows off

their figure and so much skin that they may as well be naked. Both of these archetypes

are crippling the morality of the gaming society. As mere human beings, gam
ers are

unable to be what their in game characters are, and therefore live vicariously through

these characters. This article will be used in conjunction with Craig’s article to build a

solid main body paragraph (or two).

Harris, A. B. “Average Gamers P
lease Step Forward.”
Signs of Life in the USA
. Ed. Sonia

Maasik and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2005. 504
-
506. Print.

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4



Thesis:
“Harris calls for his fellow average game players to make themselves heard and

demonstrate that they are ‘far mo
re credible and intelligent’ than their public image

would suggest” (Harris 504).


Losing a sense of reality is a constant threat to gamers everywhere. Spending several

hours a day playing video games,
and
shying away from the real world
is the route tha
t

most gamers seem to be taking, especially in this stressful economy. Harris even says it

himself, “We are closer than ever to creating truly virtual worlds that permit us to indulge

in the desire of personal experiences impossible in real life. And as

time goes on, this

evolution will assuredly continue, unbated”

(Harris

505). Are gamers in danger of losing

sight of what is real, and what is not? As technology develops, the difference between

virtual gaming and real life will be almost unnoticeable.

We will be able to dive into new

worlds, under a completely different name, in a body that we created ourselves, and

escape from reality What will happen then, when the majority of the young, 15
-
38 year

old population is so engulfed in gaming that they

don’t want to return? Harris’ article will

be the root for the future of my topic, and serve as an reality check to incorporate into my

ending paragraphs and conclusion.

Mathieu s. “Who is hiding behind videogames avatars?”
The Swedish Bed
. 35 Mar.
2010. Web.

21 Mar. 2012.
http://theswedishbed.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/who
-
is
-
hiding
-
behind
-

videogames
-
avatars/


Thesis:
There is a person behind every avatar. This avatar comes from a person’s inner

view of themselves, and speaks for their personality.


There is a face behind every avatar in every video game that has been created. This

article in particular speaks directly to the topic of Avatars and Videogames. The people

featured in this article are normal, everyday people who enjoy playing video ga
mes in
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their spare time. Gamers in these photos are of different ra
ces, ages, and backgrounds,
all


of whom display

their unique
inner person through their avatars. Some aspire to be

superheroes. Others just want to be able to look normal. But there is o
ne commonality

that is shared between most of the pictures on this site. The avatars look nothing like their

real life counterparts. A couple of the gamers featured i
n this compilation

go so far as to

have an avatar opposite of their own gender.
What do
es this say about the gaming

community, and the people that are part of it? Are they gender confused, or just

idealizers?

Ponzer,
Jennifer L. “Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ Backlash.”
Signs of Life in the USA
. Ed. Sonia

Maasik and Jack Solomon. B
oston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2005. 219
-
222
. Print.


Thesis:
Advertising companies, like Dove, have shown women that they cannot be

beautiful on their own. Advertisement like this should be removed from the media, and

criticized for it’s subjectivity.


Wh
y can’t we just appreciate ourselves for who we are? Everyone is beautiful in their

own unique ways, without conforming to the societal norms of what beauty is. But innate

beauty is not good enough for women nowadays, thanks to the expectations of men.


Ponzer explains, “Its that men with power position in the media still think its acceptable

to demand that women be displayed only in the hyper
-
objectifying images they feel is

somehow their due.” Women are deceived into believing that their own inner an
d natural

outer beauty isn’t enough. The make
-
up laden women in advertisement and magazines

make women feel as though they always need to become prettier. This common

misconception ruins a woman’s view of herself, and renders her unable to see herself i
n a

positive standpoint. Media pressures women into believing that they need to be prettier,

and this is the motivation behind the avatars of most female gamers.
Avatars can be
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customized to appear unrealistically attractive, with bigger breasts, bigger

butts, and

flawless skin. The pressure that media puts on women is reflected in the avatars that

female

gamers create, because just being yourself is never enough.

Waggoner, Zach. “Videogames, Avatars, and Identity.”
Signs of Life in the USA
. Ed. Son
ia

Maasik and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2005. 487
-
503. Print.


Thesis:
Avatars are an integral part of a person’s identity, often revealing characteristics

that have never
been revealed before.
As the boundaries between real life and the

virtual

world start the converge, gamers are losing their true sense of self.


In his article, Waggoner focuses on one central question: What role does an avatar play in

personal identity? Being a gamer himself, Waggoner knows what it feels like to play


videogames until 1am, completely forgetting about the day ahead, and what needs to be

done before waking up the next morning for school, or work. If one is not careful, video

games will consume any free time, and even work time one may have. What is it

about

videogames that is so addicting? Waggoner claims it is the ability to become something

that is inhumanly possible, or perhaps not probable. In a video game, someone can

become another person, completely di
fferent from their real self, an

aspect t
hat all gamers

love about their games.
This article serves as the basis for the argument of this proposal,

as it explains the reason why gamers choose the types of avatars that they choose, and

why these avatars are so different from the appearance and characteristics of the person

behind them.