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Virtual Reality Environments

The word avatar is adapted from the Sanskrit for “descent,” used to describe a Hindu god emerging from the heavens and bodily manifesting itself in order to intervene in human affairs. Generically, the term avatar can refer to any representation of a person. Neal Stephenson's science fiction novel Snow Crash popularized the use of the word as it is commonly understood today, which is to describe a representation that is rendered in a virtual environment (VE). Commonly, avatars are used to represent people in Internet chat, video games, social virtual worlds, massively multiplayer online role-playing games, social networking sites, and other mediated contexts. Avatars are distinguished from agents, another form of digital representation, by the element of control: avatars are controlled by human users, whereas ...

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