Humans are social creatures who thrive on interaction no matter the platform. Bars, parks, malls, and even playgrounds as kids allow us to enhance our social capacity to connect with other people.
As time went on, we also developed several ways to communicate and interact even without having physical contact with other people. Humans have developed an online avatar world in a digital space to interact with other people even from across the world.
There are many things that can be discussed and explored in an online avatar world as a digital playground for social interaction. Learn more about what is an online avatar world is and how it promises infinite possibilities in this article.
The Evolution of Online Avatar Worlds
We start to play and interact with other kids at a playground or the park or in daycare when we were young. We then move on to basketball courts, gyms, arcades, malls, and many other social hubs as we grow older.
Along the way, technology allowed us to expand on just the physical distance by allowing other people from different sides of the world to join us on our journey.
Creative developers were able to invent a digital space where we can hang out called online avatar worlds.
But What Is an Online Avatar World?
An online avatar world is a digital space where people congregate to interact with each other, much like what we humans do when we go to malls and bars and other social spaces.
Users create an account, log in to the digital space, and create a character called an avatar, which can be akin to their physical appearances or different from theirs depending on their preference. They are then transported into the digital space or online avatar world.
The online avatar world can be just a simple digital space where the avatars meet and interact through chat or calls or they can interact with the elements of that world to play games. This concept was heavily popularized by Bruce Damer, the creator of Second Life, a very popular digital social space for everyone to join in the mid-1990s.
Anatomy of an Online Avatar World
There are different types of online avatar worlds but they typically share some similar components. The very first component is the environment or the digital world.
It can simply be an empty world that will be filled by avatars later on or a specific environment such as a coffee shop, a co-working space, or an entirely made-up world depending on its creator.
Some of the best examples of an online avatar world are Roblox which allows you to create an avatar and interact with other players within their world to play, harvest crops, build shelters, and many other real-world interactions.
Next is the avatar or the player which makes up the rest of the online avatar world. An online avatar world is nothing if no avatars are interacting with each other.
How These Elements Form a Dynamic Environment
Together, these elements create a dynamic environment where the players or the avatars control how the world works to some level.
The avatars populate the online avatar world by logging in and interacting with each other.
The developers tend to encourage users or avatars to interact with each other by setting out goals and rewards while others simply let their avatars have the freedom to do what they want without setting any boundaries aside from being rude or violent to each other.
Popular Online Avatar Worlds
There are a lot of online avatar worlds today but there are only a few that continue to have a social impact.
These digital spaces are either the pioneer in the genre or bring very unique features to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
As mentioned above, one of the earliest but still the most popular online avatar world is Second Life. Second Life is the pioneer of online social spaces where users interact with each other through user-created content within a specific digital realm.
Whether it was from outer space or in a fantasy setting like in Middle Earth of the Lord of the Rings series, Second Life opened the genre to millions of people all over the world.
Some might call it the precursor of massively multiplayer online role-playing games which have more complex machinations than Second Life.
Roblox features bright colorful characters and worlds where kids can interact with each other and use programs to create games that other players can play.
It is a free-to-play game with in-game purchases while also allowing the players to buy, sell, and create virtual items that they deem to have value within the world.
Many of the games created within this virtual world are created by minors who have developed more than 20 million games in total.
VRChat is an online virtual platform that allows users to interact with others using online avatars. The platform is made up of different worlds where players can travel around and meet different virtual avatars to interact with.
Players will need their VR headsets to mimic their interactions from the outside world into the virtual world. This means that if you move or tilt your head to make a greeting motion, your avatar also does that within the virtual world to greet another player.
Users can even blink, lip sync, and make different head and hand motions to communicate with other players aside from chatting.
Applications of Online Avatar Worlds
One might think that these online avatar worlds are mere spaces for social interaction but there are still many other applications.
Apart from social interaction, these online avatar worlds have games to increase social interaction and even boost creativity in their users.
This is highly evidenced in Roblox where users as young as children can create games out of sheer creativity and share them with people all over the world. You can also bring more education to many people as it also teaches you how to program codes and more.
There is also a thriving economy within the virtual spaces which can be a good way to conduct an experiment that can be applied in the real world.
Ethical Considerations, Dangers, and Challenges
With all that discussion on how useful it is to have such social virtual spaces, there are still some disadvantages and even dangers in having them. The most challenging aspect of having these social spaces is security.
Many children often fall victim to abusers as most of the interactions are not properly monitored.
Many ill-intentioned adults and players thrive within such an environment as they are only using avatars and not their real selves to promote hate, violence, bullying, and other inappropriate actions. This is just one of the major challenges that developers are actively trying to fix.
While it has only been 20 years since we started to explore these virtual social spaces, there is still a lot to learn and enjoy when logging in to these online avatar worlds. It creates a fun learning environment if the users learn to embrace these digital playgrounds.