Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Daedalus Project

Today I’m contemplating the Daedalus Project – Nick Yee’s psychological study of mmorpgs. Scholars have found that there is an effect on the real life behavior of people who have avatars, especially those who are considered particularly attractive in-world.
“Cyberspace grants us great control over our self-representations. At the click of a button, we can alter our gender, age, attractiveness, and skin tone. But as we choose our avatars online, do our avatars change us in turn? In a series of studies, we've explored how putting people in avatars of different attractiveness or height change how they behave in a virtual environment.” (from the Virtual Human Interactive Lab at Stanford).

Siri is definitely not conventionally attractive – I’m experimenting with that idea through an alt. As Siri, I’ve noticed that she is rather shy in-world, more so than her typist, as she figures out the technology, defines her place in a community, and navigates the myriad of virtual relationships and respective identities. Cultural immersion or assimilation takes time; there is a learning curve, and customs must be observed then practiced. Admittedly, after all the time I've spent in-world, in the actual world, I’ve noticed an increase in my sociable conduct. I’m more willing to make a call, get to a show, step out of my routine. I’m re-learning the art of socializing…