Avatars: The Other Side of Proteus’s Mirror
The trend for online interactions, can be regarded as being ‘anti-socially social’, meaning that a great deal of time is spent playing, working and socializing with the internet serving as the communication conduit. Within that Virtual Social Environment very deep relationships are formed and maintained without the parties ever having met each other face-to-face. Raising the question how much does the physical appearance of an avatar influence the perception of the person behind it? Are relationships informed by appearance even in the virtual world and what implications does that have for second language acquisition? This paper leads to a small-scale research project where a selection of avatars with various racially identifiable characteristics were used to identify which avatars a second language speaker would feel more at ease interacting with in the target language. The resultant research aims to test three hypotheses regarding preferred avatar choice for second language users based solely on perceptions.
KeywordsAvatars Second language acquisition Proteus Effect Perception Chinese concept of face RPGs
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