Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Raph Koster found something interesting. A few people are touching up their screenshots. I'm sure this is most useful for the in-game advertisements, such as selling underwear or mecha or whatever.

It never really occurred to me that the same techniques used on real actors and models would be used on avatars. It makes sense, but it never occurred to me. I'd like to stretch this to its illogical conclusion.

Actresses and models are employed specifically as faces for metareality. Movies, underwear sales, etc. It's a given, when you think about it, that avatars in games will develop the same way. I imagine that once the uniqueness of the avatars starts to approach the uniqueness of a nation's population, the diversity will result in a similar diversity of jobs. So it's only natural that avatars will be employed specifically as (created specifically for) metagame stuff.

I'm trying to imagine the other rather unusual jobs that will crop up that have nothing to do with actually playing the game. I also like thinking about the differences that these roles will have from the real-people version...

What do you think?


Matthew Rundle said...

doesn't seem far off that someone can make a glamor to photoshop everything a person sees, in real time.

Craig Perko said...

Well, it would require some pretty heavy processing, but it's possible.

Ellipsis said...

While this is the first concrete example I can think of, to be honest I kind of assumed this would be going on. I mean, if people invest in their avatars as a representation of themselves, then appearance matters enough for this kind of thing to become necessary.

What it really indicates is that we should have given up long ago on the idea that photos are little chunks of reality and not just a new tool for creating imaginary spaces (that happen to bear a relationship to real spaces, sometimes).

Craig Perko said...

Well, I'm more interested in the idea of avatars being co-opted for non-gameplay jobs that might have a reflection in real-world jobs. A crude example are the "runner" avatars used to transfer goods to real-dollar buyers. The runners rarely have any in-game existence: they exist solely to do their job. This is sort of like a pony express courier, I guess.

Will we see avatars designed to practice law, even when there are no in-game laws to defend? Will we see avatars specifically to sell out-of-game goods to in-game players (like real-world kitchen sets or something)? Will we see avatars specifically chosen to spread the religion-du-jour - I know there are many religious players, but will we see players who are only there to preach?

I'm sure that these already exist, at least to some extent, but I'm not a hardcore player of MMOGs, so I can't verify it.

Ellipsis said...

I suppose that ultimately depends on which MMO we're talking about. Second Life (and maybe its clones) might be the only MMO both open-ended enough and big enough to see these kinds of avatars emerge so far.

It's a little harder to imagine a lawyer/cook avatar in a game-oriented world unless it has some relationship to gameplay or the law/cooking is directly represented in the game. Preachers, however, are not that hard to imagine in any setting.

In any case, specialty avatars will be a bit of a niche until the difference between game-oriented and social-oriented worlds blurs a bit more, I think.

Craig Perko said...

Perhaps, but now that I'm thinking about it, it seems more likely than that. Once it's easy to puppet our avatars, how long until machinima becomes a standard?

Once that happens, the game becomes a platform for making non game-related stuff.

Cooking is unlikely: it's anchored in real meats and eggs and so on. But I can see most of the other kinds of shows I'm familiar with done in-game.

Ellipsis said...

Well, if you had an avatar service as ubiquitous as something like facebook...and I know a lot of people that would really like to be that service, but I'm not sure if anyone's yet offered something that quite cuts it.

But I guess we're talking about the future, aren't we?

Craig Perko said...

Do I ever talk about anything else?

Ellipsis said...

Haha, I guess that's why your on my reading list: representative from the future.