Have you ever wanted to be a different person of in terms of gender, sex, race, religion, ethnicity or just something completely different from yourself or have you ever wanted to just be yourself? In today’s online world you have a choice: you can choose to be yourself or be different from yourself. Online profiles, video games, virtual worlds allow the user to create a profile or an avatar who can resemble the user or allow the user to become something that is completely different from themselves. Online profiles in themselves tend to give users more confidence than they would have in the “real world.” The online world allows them to be whoever they may want. Is it possible with these endless possibilities of who to be online to just be yourself?
In Blacks Deserve Bodies Too! Design and Discussion about Diversity and Race in a Teen Virtual World Yasmin B Kafai, Melissa Cook and Deborah A Fields explore the concept of race and identity within virtual worlds. They explore the virtual world of Whyville.net which is a virtual world that is available to players who range from the ages of eight to sixteen who play casual science games in order to earn a virtual salary to use towards buying and designing parts of their avatars. The problem with Whyville is its lack of diversity among body parts. The assigned avatars had “peach” or white colored faces and the only form of diversity was among the faces and the body parts didn’t represent the faces. How can an avatar represent a person as a user on Whyville if they don’t feel represented on the site? Within this particular age group how can people know who they are in order to be represented accurately? This particular age group also tends to experiment more online as a result of trying to discover who they are as people in the “real world.” The issues that surround virtual worlds mirror those of the real world so why wouldn’t the issues that people face in the real world not become imminent in the virtual world?
Representation is everything. When you look at your profiles online if it be your Facebook profile, MySpace, or your
Mii think about whether or not it accurately represents how you view yourself. Do you want it to represent you or are trying to present yourself publicly in a different way? Do we know enough about ourselves to portray ourselves accurately or are our profiles a way for us to portray ourselves how we want to be represented?
Kafai, Y. B., M. S. Cook, and D. A. Fields. “”Blacks Deserve Bodies Too!” Design and Discussion About Diversity and Race in a Teen Virtual World.” Games and Culture 5.1 (2009): 43-63. Print.