What is an avatar?
In general, an avatar is the embodiment of a person or idea. However, in the computer world, an avatar specifically refers to a character that represents an online user. These are personalized graphic illustrations that realistically, simplistically, or as a fantasy figure, represent a character or alter ego of a real person in the digital world. The term was first used and popularized in 1992 in the science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.
Where are avatars used?
Avatars are used by companies for customer service and as a human-machine interface. Examples include companies such as Ikea, VW, and Mercedes, where avatars are used for customer service or as a point of contact for vehicle navigation. Avatars are currently most widely used in online multiplayer games, where they are used as game characters that perform actions for the real player. Other areas of application are online communities such as Second Life or social media platforms such as Facebook, where an avatar is used as a proxy for the real user.
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