Posted by: Justine | September 25, 2010

A Whole New World: Avatar and Avatars

I think you all know what Avatar is but I’ll still introduce for those who haven’t got the chance to see it.

Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time with more than 2 billion dollars earned in the box office. It is about a cripple who must inhabit, through advanced technology, the body of a genetically modified Na’vi, a member of a tall, blue-skinned, tribal race, as a replacement for his brother who died beforehand. He was originally sent there to study the native Na’vis so that they can attack them and get their greatest natural resource, Unobtanium (a pretty silly and straight-up name if you ask me). Of course the protagonist falls in love with the female lead then things happen… things that I won’t spoil you. I already said too much.

"Shoot him before he tells them about the crazy monkey sex scene!"

Judging the movie based on its story telling, it was pretty much just above average it was full of tropes like the rival-before-you-get-the-girl-who-will-respect-you-in-the-end, the feisty-female-who-will-eventually-warm-up, the jungle-people-can-take-down-advanced-armies-with-sticks-and-stones (ala Ewoks from the final chapter of Star Wars), and many more. But judging from a presentation point of view, it was visual masterpiece, with beautiful set pieces and beautiful and believable graphics. You don’t even need to watch it in 3D to see that it was masterfully crafted. Overall, it was a good movie but not the real masterpiece people were looking for.

It just took a bunch of furry forest critters to defeat the fully armed Empire. The Empire had a freaking Death Star. The Ewoks only had rocks and body odor.

The concept that piqued my interest in the movie is the concept of using an avatar to enter another world. It was pretty much like the avatar in online games. They serve exactly the same purpose to be a representation of the “player” who wants to enter a world which he cannot enter in his normal form.

This is mii.

Players can become really attached to their avatar often making their online avatars strong and stylish at the expense of neglecting their real bodies. This is pretty much true in online game addicts who eat, pee, drink, and everything in between in computer shops almost always playing for 24 hours or more at a time. James Cameron (the director) said that Sigourney Weaver’s character was a smoker and didn’t care for herself is a representation of the modern gamer. But I believe that it is a hasty generalization. I’m a gamer too but I take care of myself (my acne is genetic). I think that achieving a perfect balance between our avatars and our real bodies is the best way to go.

Every gamer in James Cameron's eyes.

Our avatars may take up to far off lands but when the epic adventure ends, we must still have something real to come back to.

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Responses

  1. A good example of how much gamers value their avatars is MMORPGs.

    Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games are one of the most popular games for the Filipino youth these days. Nothing beats leveling up to level 1000 in your dream job and showing off in front of the “noobs” and “weaklings”.

    I know people who invested a significantly huge amount of money for the betterment of their avatar. And some people actually make a living out of it. Leveling a character to an astronomically high level and earning about a bajillion game money will net you as much as50K in real life.

    Avatars are our online selves and people who take their online life seriously must make sure to take care of it as much as they can.

    Nice post.

  2. Going into the idea of avatars as a means of entering worlds is a nice touch. I can see the parallelism. 🙂 Even Yahoo! has an avatar application. For me, avatars are means of creating a persona that could be you, or what you want to see as you. For example, my Yahoo avatar is a geisha. 😛

    But sometimes, it could be a means to lie about who you are. Not really completely an illegal kind of lying, but your avatar could be a girl, but you’re actually a guy who wants to be a girl. 😛 Sigh. The pains of anonymity.

  3. I am proud to say that I actually look like my Yahoo! avatar. A lot of people had said so. Ha!

    I agree with Larraine, there are certainly times when you have to hide behind a mask because you don’t want to always be yourself. Avatars, in a small way, can do that. I guess what’s important is to remember that the avatar is NOT really you. :p

    p.s. The Ewoks had C3PO as their god, how could they lose? :))

  4. Someone bet me once that I couldn’t get my character in Ragnarok Online to a second-tier job in two days. I won the bet, haha. I practically gave my body and soul to the desktop for 2 whole days.

    But that was before. Now I rarely have time to even create an online game account. I do admit that there was I time I was indeed addicted to online games. And while my online counterpart flourished, I deteriorated.

    Everything in moderation I guess.


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