E-Race: Avatars, Anonymity And The Virtualization Of Identity

A session at SXSW Interactive 2011

Sunday 13th March, 2011

11:00am to 12:00pm (CST)

Back in 2003, photographer Robbie Cooper photographed dozens of portraits of online gameplayers alongside their avatars for a book called ALTER EGO. The book is an incredible illustration of the ways that digital platforms have transformed fixed physical characteristics into a virtual wardrobe that can be donned or dismissed with a few clicks of a button.

This phenomenon might be trivial if online identity were all "just a game"—but the truth is, the line between online and offline identity has increasingly blurred. Writing about a study he conducted exploring gender identity among MMO participants, researcher Lukas Blinka wrote in the journal Cyberpsychology in 2008 that “the data...shows that younger players tend to identify with — i.e. not to distinguish from — their avatars, and the younger the respondents were, the stronger the phenomenon."

What are the implications for traditional aspects of identity in a context where they can be so freely and fluidly altered? What does the ability to hide or disguise identity mean in particular for the experience of race — and racism — online? This panel will debate whether digital platforms can enhance racial engagement and understanding, or simply encourage conscienceless and consequence-free acts of hatred and abuse — and explore how online identity is forcing us to confront new ways of thinking about race, ethnicity and gender.

LEVEL: Intermediate

About the speakers

This person is speaking at this event.
Wagner James Au

Author of upcoming book *Secrets of Game Design*, get 40% discount here: http://bit.ly/ITPFfc Also *Making of Second Life*: http://amzn.to/j8Fvsi bio from Twitter

This person is speaking at this event.
Lisa Nakamura
This person is speaking at this event.
Jeff Yang

Columnist for the WallStreetJournal (http://orsp.in/taojones); editor, SECRET IDENTITIES: The Asian American Superhero Anthology (www.secretidentities.org) bio from Twitter

Next session in Hill Country AB

12:30pm The Net Delusion by Evgeny Morozov

12 attendees

  • Christina Xu
  • Paulien Dresscher
  • Derek Chan
  • jessica moreno
  • Michiel Frackers
  • Heather Rasley
  • Kirstin Butler
  • Lisa Nakamura
  • Omar Green
  • Jeff Yang
  • Yesenia Sotelo
  • Wagner James Au

17 trackers

  • Joen
  • Beau
  • Ben Spaulding
  • Ben Ward
  • Brian Truax
  • Charles Chuang
  • Eamonn O'Brien-Strain
  • Hanni Ross
  • Ella Worth
  • joanne mcneil
  • Katie Felten
  • liangcw
  • Liang Shi
  • David Beaudouin
  • Tanya
  • Shelley Cook
  • Gavin Bell

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Time 11:00am12:00pm CST

Date Sun 13th March 2011


Hill Country AB, Hyatt Regency Austin

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