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Avatar, Assembled

The Social and Technical Anatomy of Digital Bodies


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.

“Much like the multiple customization options many games offer to videogame players, Avatar, Assembled offers the reader multiple fascinating angles from which to understand game avatars. Covering the social and technical aspects that make up our digital representations, the book draws on specific game examples, highlights well-known avatars, and brings in classic as well as cutting-edge theory about how and why these representations come to matter to us so much. For games scholars and interested players, this volume is not to be missed.” —Mia Consalvo Professor, Communication Studies Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design Concordia University (Montreal, Canada)