Player as parent, character as child : Understanding avatarial relationships in gamespace
It has been theorised that avatars allow for an embodied interaction between the player and the character they are controlling onscreen. This has been discussed through the avatar being an extension of the player's actions, with the two 'bodies' of the virtual and the real becoming merged as the player moves the avatar through a series of events. The issue that resides with these statements is that moving the character through a control device does not recreate the full movement of the avatar onscreen. Instead a represented action occurs, with some actions being the result of programmers code rather than the intended action of the player. The avatar can also be expressed as a series of interactions, rather than purely through a discussion of moving a character through the space of the game. It is these interactions that coincide with the avatar's 'presence' in the world that will be discussed as part of this paper. This will result in understanding the player:avatar relationship as one that mimics a parent:child relationship found in hierarchical design and programming based systems. Instead of the avatar being seen as an extension of the player, or as a puppet to control, the avatar can be seen to have it's own characteristics and animated cycles, beyond the player's input. Therefore in recognising the interaction, and/or 'agency' associated with moving the avatar through the space of the game, the avatar is also recognised as a separate character with it's own interactions and resulting events that lie in the game system, provoked by the player's controller action. The term avatar is questioned and revisited in the later parts of this paper as a way of understanding more emergent game technologies that integrate the player further as part of their design.