At the least, it may offer insights into its creator’s hidden tastes. is just one of a growing number of three-dimensional virtual worlds, accessible via the Internet, in which users, through an avatar, are able to play games or simply interact socially with thousands of people simultaneously.By some estimates, more than 10 million people spend to a month to subscribe to online role-playing environments, with the number of subscribers doubling every year.
When people approach you to chat—their hands typing on an invisible keyboard to indicate that a line of dialogue will soon appear on your screen—their movements are slightly awkward.But in the last few years, technology has expanded the possibilities.Today, a teenager will communicate in the voice of two personae—one transmitted over cell phone and the other via instant messaging—to the same friend at the same time.Like the ancient rite of the cartoon showing man’s best friend sitting at a computer screen: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The avatar is the most conspicuous online manifestation of people’s desire to try out alternative identities or project some private aspect of themselves.(The word, which originally described the worldly incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, was popularized in its cybersense by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 cult novel .) Broadly defined, “avatar” encompasses not only complex beings created for use in a shared virtual reality but any visual representation of a user in an online community.