People in pixels: exploring identity and behaviour in virtual worlds

Fyson, Catherine (2011) People in pixels: exploring identity and behaviour in virtual worlds. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The aim of this dissertation is to explore traditional notions of identity in the context of creating avatars for virtual worlds including Linden Lab’s Second Life. This study argues that identity, in particular the route of its meaning, is not as black and white as it may seem. By updating the theoretical approaches to self reflexive theory established by Giddens (1991) and Cooley (1903) and applying these to a contemporary example of self representation, I will adapt and critique these theories in conjunction with more recent writing on concepts of the online self.

    Identity is no longer fixed, and does not determine just who you are, but also who you wish to be. Digital self representations on virtual worlds now allow users to appear as completely different to their offline persona, or enhanced versions of it, which is arguably due to a user being self-reflexive.

    This dissertation considers that this manipulation of the self affects a user’s behaviour in virtual worlds, allowing them to be more confident than offline. Links are made between offline ideologies such as consumerism and romantic relationships, to argue that virtual worlds are an extension of the offline world and allow users to become immersed in an ideal utopia. This will enable me to reach a conclusion that approaches the notion of virtual worlds as a form of escapism and an avenue for exercising identity exploration in order to overcome offline insecurities.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2012 15:53
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:58

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