The moment of creating an online avatar is a pivotal one in the virtual world.
It is the act that sets the foundation for everything that will come next in the journey.
The avatar you create will shape your experience of the world. And the traits, skills and characteristics you choose will impact how you play the game, what you get to see, and how you interact with others.
In the case of a game like World of Warcraft, for example, the process of creating an online avatar involves a series of steps.
These are important steps because at the end of this process, your avatar will be distinct from any other character in the game.
In a sense, the task of creating your avatar is one of refining your digital identity through choices and elimination.
It yields a unique digital DNA which — like a genetic code does in our real lives — impacts your experience in the virtual world.
Depending on how you choose, your gameplay experience will be vastly different from other users.
Each faction has multiple distinct races.
Horde races include goblins, orcs, blood elves, and the undead — zombie-like creatures.
Alliance races include dwarves, humans, and night elves.
As you piece through physical attributes and character strengths, you can choose to be similar to yourself, aligning you avatar with your natural traits and tendencies. Or you can choose to be your opposite, a virtual alter ego — loud when you are really quiet, outgoing when you might be more reserved in the real world.
No matter what you choose, it is a chance to play a part of yourself, to play a character you have inside, or fulfill a curiosity that tugs at you.
In this way, games becomes so much more than just games, they become parallel worlds where we can play and interact, and learn about our own nature.
Stephen Gillett, is the Chief Operating Officer of Symantec, overseeing 20, 000 people across six continents.
Stephen is sometimes referred to as “The Guild CIO” because he credits much of his corporate success to his experience as a guild leader inside of online games like WoW.
Of his own experience, he says: “The virtual world was fascinating because it allows you to step out of your confinements of the real world and be something you totally could imagine yourself being in the digital world. So you had no constraints of a modern society. So if you were a timid, shy, physically inferior person and you wanted to be a loud, obnoxious, physically superior person, your route to doing that was this digital world. If you were a workaholic, working long hours, always paying attention to detail, micro managing your team in the real world and you wanted to be a casual, elder, someone that people can come to for advise person in the digital world, you had permission to do that.”
Ultimately, says Gillett, within this digital frontier, “you can be everything you imagine yourself to be.”
From the get-go, the choices you make – strategically or just intuitively – will determine the type of experience your avatar will have.
Each choice makes you unique, and in terms of experience potential, closes some doors while opening others while laying the path for the journey ahead.
As Ramona says of her first encounter with her avatar Tristanova: “I had the feeling she had a lot to teach me about the game, and the real world… and myself.”