Digital Embodiment: Character and Environment

The Dangerous Embodiments project aims to give players different first-person perspectives of the experiences of people in Soweto and Lakeport. It attempts to embody this history digitally by allowing users to play as different characters such as a female slave and a male plantation master, in the case of Lakeport.

At first, I definitely noticed the physical characteristics of the avatar as which I am playing. The female slave at Lakeport seems more hunched over and timid, while the male plantation master is more burly and comes off as a more powerful character. However, as I progressed through the simulation I found that I paid less and less attention to the character as which I was playing until, eventually, I was essentially tuning it out and only paying attention to the environment around me. Because of this, I don’t feel I was able to gain as much of a sense of empathy as this project has potential to offer.

This point about the environment is key here. I feel that if these projects and included more environmental changes depending on which character you select, a much more immersive sense of embodiment would ensue. For example, not allowing the slave to enter the house, or certain parts of the house, that the master might help emphasize the historical situations and restrictions that came with each of the characters, better putting you into their experience. This could be done with social interactions with other non player characters added to the simulation as well.

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