Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

An avatar is a graphical representation of a user or the user’s persona. Avatars can be two-dimentional (like a profile picture) or a three-dimensional forms in games like Fortnite or World of Warcraft.

The term has Hindu origins where it refers to the “descent” of a deity into an earthly form. But, it was adapted to video game and computer culture by Richard Garriot (the man behind the Ultima franchise) in 1985. He used the term in an Ultima game to encourage players to imagine their character within the game to be an extension of themselves within the game world. He felt that this would force players to express their own ethics and morals through the challenges he put into the game.

The emergence (and dominance) of online games has likewise increased the importance of avatars in daily life. Our kids spend hours and hours collecting bells in Animal Crossing so they can buy the perfect outfit from the Able sisters. They’ve asked us (frequently) for money so they can buy Vbucks in Fortnite so they can grab the latest skins.

These avatars give players a wonderful opportunity for self-expression. It lets them see themselves within the game as they are OR as they want to be.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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By Stephen Duetzmann

Editor in Chief Founder/EiC EngagedFamilyGaming.com Blogger, Podcaster, Video Host RE: games that families can play together. Editor@engagedfamilygaming.com

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