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Avatar, Assembled

The Social and Technical Anatomy of Digital Bodies

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Edited By Jaime Banks

Avatar, Assembled is a curated volume that unpacks videogame and virtual world avatars—not as a monolithic phenomenon (as they are usually framed) but as sociotechnical assemblages, pieced together from social (human-like) features like voice and gesture to technical (machine-like) features like graphics and glitches. Each chapter accounts for the empirical, theoretical, technical, and popular understandings of these avatar "components"—60 in total—altogether offering a nuanced explication of avatars-as-assemblages as they matter in contemporary society and in individual experience. The volume is a "crossover" piece in that, while it delves into complex ideas, it is written in a way that will be accessible and interesting to students, researchers, designers, and practitioners alike.
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Chapter Fifteen: Cosplay & Conventions: Exporting the Digital (Nicolle Lamerichs)

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Cosplay & Conventions

Exporting the Digital

NICOLLE LAMERICHS



Videogame fans and players do more than just couch-surf. While popular culture demands an increasing degree of participation via social media and platforms in general, games (as inherently interactive media) are even more apt at engaging their audiences. While videogames engage users to extend themselves into the gameworld, users often extend these digital worlds as well. In such participatory cultures, audiences of all kinds enjoy reworking existing material on digital and traditional platforms (Jenkins, 2006). Contemporary audiences are producers who combine production and usage, and thus engage in acts of “produsage” which have elements of both (Bruns, 2008). Through these acts, media are increasingly lived, rather than consumed, Deuze (2012) even argues.

This also holds true for videogames, such that gaming has become a wide subculture with its own repertoires, events, and communities, which export this digital culture to offline networks. Gaming fan cultures are a pivotal example of these emerging cultural dynamics. These active audiences engage with the games originating from different cultures, from the United States and Canada to Korea and Japan. Gamers are also active in communities that have been theorized as “fandoms,” describes term referring to the social and creative communities around a specific slice (e.g., title, series, genre, character) of popular culture (Gray, Sandvoss, & Harrington, 2007).

Fandoms are characterized by their creativity, online and offline sociality, and...

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