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Avataritis — On the Abundance of Customizable Game Characters 78

Martyn Zachary writes "The Slowdown has posted a new critique, 'Avataritis,' that attempts to portray the utilization of character customization as a pandemic, emotional response on behalf of publishers and developers to finding the easiest, most efficient solution to the very unique dilemma presented by the enlarging, widening player base of video games. 'No mechanisms are in place stopping developers from writing and designing heterogeneous yet fully structured, narrative-based computer games with carefully constructed and immutable, unchangeable characters.' The article discusses the emergence and role of gender criticism and research in relation to the recent proliferation of the customizable avatar. The story also dissects the very act of character creation, subsequently aiming to clarify several semantic distortions related to the terminology utilized in character creation, and in turn breaking apart the concepts of relatability and understandability, wholly differentiating the two. The overarching analysis is finally related to examples from the gaming marketplace, where many continue to corroborate apparent falsehoods and misunderstandings in relation to the utilization of the avatar. Ultimately, the writer hopes to dissuade readers, developers and players from believing that written narratives are going away as customization and emergent content are entering video games with full force."
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Avataritis — On the Abundance of Customizable Game Characters

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  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @07:52AM (#29776683) Homepage

    that made more sense.

    1. You make a character look like you, so you can feel like 'YOU' are part of the story.
    2. You make a character like you wish you were, to make 'YOU' feel like some sort of hero (or anti-hero)
    3. You make a character unlike yourself and not like you wish you were to give yourself a different perspective and to act out a roll.

    If the characters look (color, shape, accent, etc) has no direct bearing on the story then it's just window dressing.

  • Tsss... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jerry Smith ( 806480 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @07:52AM (#29776685) Homepage Journal
    And all that time I thought people were going for a funny picture, silly me!
  • by platypussrex ( 594064 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @08:49AM (#29776851)
    I concur.... my first thought upon (trying) to read the summary was that perhaps April Fool's Day had come sooner than expected, but then I realized that even the worst April Fool's Parody couldn't touch this guy... he's in a league of his own. My brain still hurts from the onslaught.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @09:55AM (#29777219) Journal

    I got the feeling this guy is in marketing. There was something being said, but it was lost in all the frills.

    The english language is not a wedding gown, it doesn't get better the more lace you add. It is instead a thong. Less is more.

  • by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @10:02AM (#29777263)

    The english language ... is instead a thong. Less is more.

    Wt u say, lss is more. R u sum prof of English thn? I thk u r wrng, more is ok fr a lang tht expands all t time. :)

  • by m.ducharme ( 1082683 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @10:14AM (#29777355)

    Hopefully if it were being edited for an academic paper, he would not get to assume the points he's trying to prove.

  • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:45AM (#29777899)

    People write like this to show off, yes, but it also takes a lot of effort to be so precisely complex.

    Precise writing looks a bit like this. People who don't have the ability to write precisely but want to look intellectual also write like this. I think this article falls into the category of "trying to appear intellectual" rather than "writing with precision". To illustrate, consider the definition of "avataritis":

    the video game industry’s highly emotional, pandemic response to finding the easiest, most efficient solution to the very unique dilemma presented by its ever-widening player base.

    So we get from this:

    1. The player base of video games is ever-widening. Simple, plausible.
    2. This presents a very unique dilemma. "Very unique" isn't really a hallmark of precise writing, but more to the point he doesn't tell us what this dilemma is.
    3. The industry is responding to finding the easiest, most efficient solution to this unspecified dilemma. He doesn't tell us what the solution is either.
    4. The industry's response to finding this unspecified solution to an unspecified dilemma is predominantly driven by emotion on the part of the industry and is a widespread infection.
    5. We are left to infer the precise nature of this response from the etymology of his neologism*. Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "definition" earlier, because while he tells us what he's using "avataritis" as a short-hand for, he doesn't spell out what it actually consists of.

    I'll grant that "pandemic" isn't an inappropriate word given that he's painting avatar usage ("utilization" in the summary is pure pomposity), but the rest makes me far more strongly inclined to believe he's being pretentious than precise. The use of similar language and of self-reference as "the author" in the summary reinforces that view.

    * Yes, I'm being pretentious too, but at least what I'm writing makes sense.

  • by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:50AM (#29777929)

    What made you think charisma is like "charm"? Then why is it called a different word then? :)

    Wiki-Grandma says "One who is charismatic is said to be capable of using their personal being, rather than just speech or logic alone, to interface with other human beings in a personal and direct manner, and effectively communicate an argument or concept to them."

    When I remember where charisma checks were usually encountered in various RPGs, it was always in persuading or influencing other characters to do your bidding. Which works pretty well if you're a hot nympho female or a 500 pound gorilla concerning the result: people will subconsciously yield to you. Fear or attraction doesn't matter, the results are the same.

  • by Nekomusume ( 956306 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @12:22PM (#29778115)

    4: Making the character up to be a hot guy/girl of "your type", so that you can stare at eye candy that actually suits your own tastes. ("If I'm going to be staring at this character for the next 50+ hours, it might as well look good")
    5: Making the character up to be a fashion doll. ("screw the stats, I want the awesome looking armor")
    6: Making the character up to look like anything other than a standard video-game hero(ine), who tend to be carbon copies of each other.

  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:27PM (#29780025)

    Yah I noticed that too. They seem to have some furry artists on staff or something, because they put a *lot* of attention into the werewolf/cat-person/antlers/etc options. Or it might have just been a lack of creativity elsewhere, "I can't thing of any other style of legs... well, let's put in the werewolf option I guess."

    The part that bugged me is that the only textures available were (IIRC) "Metallic", "Leather", "Cloth." That's it? You have 40,000 werewolf options, and you didn't even bother making a "Fur" texture? (You can make a metallic werewolf, though. Whee!)

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner