How anime avatars became a warning

NYMag's Max Read considers whether or not it is a good idea to preemptively block anyone you see with an anime avatar, that having become a signifier for a particular type of angry, prolix adolescent. Read the rest

What happens when you don't let players pick their race?

Plenty of people play games to escape their real lives, and the character creators some games offer let us imagine ourselves in whatever image we'd like: realistic or idealized, some version of ourselves. Or someone entirely other -- not just a chance to invent your very own fantasy character, but to live as them, in a sense.

I know a couple where one partner always builds one edition of the other in any game they play that allows for character selection. Isn't that romantic?

I'm also intrigued by the idea a game might take that choice away from me -- where every player has a different avatar, but it's not up to us. Like being born, almost, where we can't choose how we enter the world. Not everyone feels that way, apparently. My colleague Nathan Grayson has just covered the fascinating situation of Rust, where some players are upset to have lost control over their race.

Rust is a popular multiplayer game about surviving in chaos -- I don't play it myself, but my friends tell me haunting stories about scrabbling for resources, fearing one another in the dark. Now, thanks to a recent update, player appearances will be randomized, in order to create a diverse and natural look to the world, and also to make individual players more distinct from one another.

The avatar's physical features will be tied to players' IDs on Steam, the service they use to play Rust, so it'd take a disproportionate effort to attempt to get a new look. Read the rest

Man cultivates healthy lifestyle to be more like his avatar

Marcus Dickinson, 40, was very overweight and unhealthy when he created his EVE Online character Roc Wieler, the tough guy seen above left. Eventually, Dickinson became so inspired by Roc that he hit the gym to be more like him. Above right is Dickinson now. "I'm a role player inherently," Dickinson says. "I take it seriously." Virtual reality: Avatar inspires gamer to hit the gym (CNN) Read the rest