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SimWord of the Day: Avatar, Player's

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Sat May 06 2006

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SimWord of the Day: Avatar, Player's-6d5792e9a8cf9d839434048c3c052dc76dd49c39f87543f3436b37fbeacc6413

In many games including massively multiplayer, the player is represented with a "physical" presence in the game world or play space. The presence is called an avatar, and it can be the form of an abstracted person, vehicle, animal, or even a completely abstract token.

The avatar is often the hero of a story that provides context and motivation for specific tasks/quests.

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The location of the avatar on a map or the relationship to another unit can activate a context specific trigger, such as the sound of traffic if the avatar is near a road, or a context specific menu, such as the opportunity to talk if the avatar is near another character, or even use a copier if the avatar is near a copier. Often the object of a game is to get the avatar to certain key locations.

The perspective of the camera in a virtual world often is governed by the position of the player's avatar, either looking through the eyes of the avatar (first person), or "over-the shoulder" (third person). Being able to see your avatar during the course of the simulation enables more complex actions, and also creates a stronger sense of character.

The avatar can be customized in many ways. The look of the avatar can be customized as game element to add levels of "buy-in." This includes changing wardrobe, face, even importing a photograph.

The avatar has certain abilities, such as speed, health, and persuasiveness. The abilities of the avatar can often be increased or decreased, either permanently or temporarily, through various activities including found power-ups and the accomplishment of certain quests. In role-playing frameworks, the player might have choices in terms of development opportunities, such as between increasing sales skills or technical skills.

The avatar might also have a limited or unlimited inventory, granting further capabilities.

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Avatars can also represent a person in a chat room or other communities model.

In many tycoon games, god games, and strategy games, the player is not represented by an avatar.

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