Types of Avatars in Playable Reality

When creating a playable reality, the overarching goals of the game must be considered before implementing any sort of avatar. Some games let players create their own avatar to increase emersion, while other, more story driven games often give the player a predetermined avatar for reasons tightly wound to the narrative.

In a spatial reality, where the player’s goal is to explore a specific location of a historical event, the avatar does not truly matter, because the reason for playing the game is to gain a deeper understanding of the environment one is in. In an operational reality, where specific events in history are depicted in games, the avatar is incredibly important because most often the player will be assuming the role of a real person who existed in the past. The closer the avatar resembles that person, the more the player can feel immersed in that specific event.

In a procedural reality, where the player plays through an underlying situation and not a specific story, the avatar has more flexibility. Aa specific person’s story can be hindered by an avatar not closely aligned with the person’s true appearance. However, if a player is playing through a broader situation, avatar creation can draw players in and make them more immersed in the game. Therefore, they can understand the behaviors that arise in a situation in a deeper context. Trepte and Reinecke discuss the “ideal self” and the “actual self” in their essay, “Avatar Creation and Video Game Enjoyment,” discussing how players will generally create avatars with characteristics the players strive for or already have. Creating avatars that are similar to the player in this way links the player to their avatar in a way that a game where they are assuming the role of someone else cannot.


Trepte, Sabine, and Leonard Reinecke. “Avatar Creation and Video Game Enjoyment.”Journal of Media Psychology (2010), 21 Dec. 2010.

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