[-empyre-] non-naturalistic avatars

triggering off Melinda's comments on avatars:

My first VR work, Starbright World, was a multi-user space for seriously
ill children. We had a lot of terrific cartoon avatars animated by
Steven Spielberg's best animators, but at the very last moment before I
turned in the final version I slipped in some very simple "playing card"
(i.e. two sided front/back 2D drawings) avatars made from drawings done
by a 9-year-old.

These "figures" were very indefinite - some could be construed as
roughly humanoid, but others looked more like sea anemones or sunbursts
or ... just abstract drawings. A couple of kids really picked up on
these, creating all sorts of involved stories (they were aliens from
Mars, etc.) surrounding them and what they were and could do.

One of my original hopes for the space was that kids would be able to
create their own avatars and really participate in the creation of the
culture of the virtual world. Although for logistical reasons the space
was taken offline before this functionality could be added, I was
completely thrilled to see how even if the kids hadn't drawn the avatars
themselves, the fact that they were clearly kid's drawings and very
abstract empowered them to create their own stories in in a way that the
professional avatars hadn't.

I don't have any images of those avatars, but there are some "official"
images from the project on my website at:


- tamiko

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