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Avatars


The look of avatars has an impact on the interpretation of the environment in many ways. We decided to limit the usersí choice of avatars to either a male or a female modern-day looking avatar. This restriction conforms to our theoretical argument discussed before regarding the experience of Sirkap. By using a modern-day looking avatar we sought to reinforce the notion that this is a modern-day experience of Sirkap. Meanwhile, non-playing characters (NPCs), avatars controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) and not by actual users, were modeled to reflect the costumes of the time when Sirkap was a vibrant place.

However, avatar models are still problematic in many ways. It is a technically difficult task to model optimized avatars for virtual environments. The game industry usually employs dedicated experts whose sole task is to model avatars. For Virtual Sirkap, we opted for buying avatar models from specialists. Our task, hence, was to modify these avatars to our needs. While shopping for avatars, we discovered that in general, commercially available avatar models represent the facial features and body proportions of what is perceived as an ideal man or woman from North European descents. This observation can also be generalized to avatars in use in all virtual environments to our knowledge, designed for gaming, social interaction or academic purposes. Moreover, the tools available for modeling avatars (for example, Poser from SmithMicro Software) readily provide the same type of avatars. Historical accounts point that the residents of Sirkap were the local Indian populace in addition to waves of Greeks, Scythians, and Parthians. While we should expect that Sirkap had a racially diverse population, we doubt that any of its residents looked like the currently available avatars.