Vidite sta sam pronasla.
Iznosim samo najtipicnije, a vi prosudite sami. :-)
Animal avatars are some of the most popular at the Palace. Some people come as their pets. Because animals symbolize certain traits or attributes in myth as well as popular culture (e.g., strength, loyalty, grace, independence, cunning, transcendence), the animal chosen for an avatar probably bears psychological significance to the person - perhaps representing some real aspect of his or her identity, or some characteristic admired by the person. Thinking in the tradition of the Native American, we might even regard an animal avatar as being an individuals "totem" - i.e., a symbol of one's essential nature or potential.
When Bumgardner designed the Palace, he specifically choose a "cartoony" atmosphere. For example, the balloons that pop out from one's head when speaking is a carry over from the world of comic strips. Bumgardner felt that people would readily identify with this atmosphere and find it intuitively easy to use. The cartoony ambience also fosters a playful regression among users. Bumgardner wanted people to feel like they were "getting away with something" - which surely is a familiar theme in comic strip plots. As a result, it's no surprise that cartoon props proliferate at the Palace. While younger users (adolescents) may be more inclined to don cartoon costumes, older members frequently use them as well. The psychological significance of the cartoon character probably affects the choice made by the user. People select characters with whom they identify or admire. Some cartoon characters have very specific cultural significance and may even represent archetypal personality types (e.g., Bugs Bunny as the confident trickster; Aladdin's genie as the powerful but benevolent friend). Rather than relying on childhood cartoon figures, some adults wear cartoon avs of a more sophisticated style - some of these classified as "anime." The psychological tone of these avs tend to be more seductive, whimsical, or mysterious.
Celebrity avatars tend to follow trends in popular culture. And like items in popular culture, they may quickly become epidemic and then disappear. There may be a variety of motives behind the use of these avs. People may use them to express personality traits or social issues that are associated with the celebrity's image (sensuality, intelligence, power, corruption, rebellion, etc.). The user may identify with, desire, or be poking fun at these attributes. They may hope to bolster their self-esteem and identity by establishing their connection to the celebrity. They may simply wish to display a knowledge of current events in pop culture. Celebrity avs also advertise one's specific interests in entertainment in order to find like-minded users: "Hey, I like Seinfeld! Anyone else out there like Seinfeld?"
Everyone has a dark or "evil" side to his or her personality. The definition of "evil" varies from person to person, although usually it has something to do with malicious, aggressive fantasies and/or feelings of guilt. Note how many Halloween costumes fit this category. As a form of sublimation, evil costumes allow people to safely - and even creatively - express their dark side. While some members may wear an evil av as their facade for the evening (which may reflect their mood at the time), others may "flash" it as a momentary cue to others. Mess with wizards, for example, and they may flash their evil av as a warning that they're getting annoyed and may pin, gag, or kill you. On one occasion, I witnessed a male come on to an attractive female member wearing a real face prop. When her attempts to brush him off failed, she flashed a nefarious looking skull at him. He quickly backed off. Some people may use evil or aggressive avatars as a way (consciously or unconsciously) to alienate or "put off" other people. This might indicate their anxiety about intimacy and being vulnerable.
Real Face Avatars
Most users do not use pictures of themselves as their primary avatars. People prefer the partial anonymity of expressing only limited aspects of their personality through imaginative props. Or they simply enjoy the creative fun of experimenting with new identities through their avs. In more rare cases, members find the use of real face avs to be an uncomfortable, dissociative experience. "I have a picture of myself in the prop file but I really don't like to use it any longer than it takes for me to show it to a new friend," said River, a wizard. "It is a little disturbing to sit here at home and see myself speaking in cartoon balloons in a non-reality. Whew!!!!"
When users do present pictures of their real faces, it may be a gesture of honesty and/or intimacy - a sign of friendship, or even romance. Showing one's real face av can be a very poignant experience. Several members have described to me encounters when an intimate conversation culminated in their companion showing a picture of themselves. "That moment will stay with me for a long time to come," one member stated, "The value I placed on that particular moment was, friendship, trust, a sense of oneness." This same member described how there seems to be a pattern when an entire group feels compelled to use their real faces - what he called "face nite." For that period of time, the intimacy and friendship level reaches a point where people wish to step out of their masks and out of their anonymity. They want be as "real" as possible.
Power avatars are symbols of... well... power. Many, if not all, people have conscious or unconscious fantasies of omnipotence. Who wouldn't want strength and invulnerability? These types of avs seem to be most common among male adolescent users. In some cases the power theme is benign. Sometimes not, which may be a variation of the "evil" avatar. Because competition invariably accompanies displays of power, members seem to vie with each other in creating the most "awesome" power av. This competition is probably more common among the adolescent users. Members who persistantly display power avs may be troubled by underlying feelings of helplessness and insecurity.
Frontal nudity, including uncovered breasts, are not permitted at the Palace. Offenders first are warned by wizards, prop-gagged (forced into the standard smiley), and, if necessary, disconnected from the server. Adapting to these house rules, some users create avatars of partially naked or scantily clothed figures. Mischievious members sometimes push the envelope by wearing avs that test the limits and ambiguities of the rules. Supreme court justices have had a hard time defining what is pornographic, so the task has been no easier for the officials who run the EC sites. Even though the rules have become very specific about what body parts can and cannot be visible in an av, borderline cases always pop up (see The Bad Boys of Cyberspace).
Female seductive avatars tend to be more common than male - although these female avs sometimes are "manned" by male users (see "Male Gender-Switching in Cyberspace") . In fact, the general impression among members is that males are more likely to prop up as females, especially seductive females, than women dressing up as males.
Members usually wear seductive avs to draw attention to themselves. This works very well. Male users, especially guests, quickly flock to a sexy female form. The owner may be interested in harmless flirting, or (less frequently) be advertising his or her availability for cybersex. I heard one story about someone's office friend who, when frustrated on the job, says "I need a Palace break" He then signs onto the Palace dressed as a sexy female and lures guys into bedrooms. Being sexy not only gets you attention. It also gives you power and control over others.
Some people wearing seductive avs wish to be admired as an attractive, sexy individual, without necessarily being interested in flirting or cybersex. "I have some very sexy stuff given to me by friends (all men!)," said one female member. "What do they say about me? Not quite sure, except that I would love to be younger and more beautiful and some of my avatars are that indeed."
A seductive, sexy, or simply "attractive" avatar can have a powerful impact on other members. One member described how his prop of a cartoon animal didn't seem to be getting him much attention from females. Most of them wouldn't talk to him. Curious about whether he could alter this situation, he searched the net and found a picture of Brad Pitt which he turned into a prop. The result?... Lots of attention. If he happened to be wearing his cartoon prop and found that he was being ignored by a woman, he would move to another room, switch to Brad Pitt, and then return. Or he would switch to Pitt right in front of her. Nine times out of ten, he said, the woman would strike up a conversation with him even if he hadn't said a word. He even established a relationship with someone who eventually wanted to meet him face-to-face. "The pic got her attention," he concluded, "but in the end it was me that won her over." The curious thing about this phenomenon is that members KNOW that people are not their avatars. Just because a prop is pretty to look at doesn't mean that the user is. Nevertheless, that seductive av has tremendous drawing power. Perhaps some people enjoy the illusion of interacting with (and hopefully winning over) an attractive person. Perhaps, as many critics of contemporary culture claim, some people can't resist the temptation of superficial appearances, despite knowing better. Or perhaps some people are just curious, "Who *IS* that person using that sexy av?"