The Social and Technical Anatomy of Digital Bodies
Edited By Jaime Banks
Chapter Eighteen: Spells & Statistics: Inside the Black Box (Christopher A. Paul)
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Spells & Statistics
Inside the Black Box
CHRISTOPHER A. PAUL
As detailed throughout this book, both developers and players are presented vast options for avatar customization when they start designing or playing videogames. Developers get to set the initial terms for avatar creation and typically offer players all kinds of options for players to develop their own representations in a game. Increased computing power, combined with industry trends toward photorealism in graphics, present players with a dizzying array of choices to make about everything from what an avatar looks like to how it plays out in practice. World of Warcraft (WoW; 2004), for instance, lets players customize both their physical incarnation, and also their race, class, spells, and talents. NBA 2K16 (NBA2K; 2015), like most sports games, includes a MyPLAYER mode that allows players to create ball-player characters, selecting their height, weight, skin color, tattoos, clothing, position, and key basketball attributes. The part deck building, part battle arena game Clash Royale (CR; 2016) strips down player choice even further, as players are left with choices about what cards to include in their deck and considerations to make about how they spend their resources, like gold and gems, but no options about their appearance in the game, beyond their player and clan names.
Effectively these choices fall into two categories: representational issues that are about graphics and how the player is represented in the...
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