August 14, 2011

Dr. Nicola Marae Martinez Publishes Book Chapter Examining Avatar Identity Formation

Nicola Martinez Head Shot Dr. Nicola Marae Martinez has authored a chapter, “Liminal Phases of Avatar Identity Formation in Virtual World Communities,” which has been published in “Reinventing Ourselves: Contemporary Concepts of Identity in Virtual Worlds,” edited by Anna Peachey and Mark Childs. The book is part of a Springer series devoted to immersive environments.

“This chapter examines the early phases of entrance into virtual worlds as a ‘newbie’ avatar within the framework of van Gennep and Turner’s liminal phases of neophyte initiation rituals,” Martinez explains in her abstract. “This analysis of the avatar in liminal states examines how, even in seemingly anarchistic virtual worlds such as Second LifeTM, social norms and sanctions emerge to influence avatar identity formation and persistence.”

Observations about avatar identity development in liminal phases are drawn from Martinez’s research on avatars being initiated into dragonhood on the Isle of Wyrms in Second Life from 2007-09. Theoretical underpinnings of the chapter are illustrated using case studies highlighting key liminal phases of avatar development.

Martinez is academic area coordinator for humanities and digital media at the Center for Distance Learning.

More information is available on the Springerlink website.