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Personal identity and the massively multiplayer online world

Edgar, Andrew Robert ORCID: 2016. Personal identity and the massively multiplayer online world. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 10 (1) , pp. 51-66. 10.1080/17511321.2016.1168478

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This paper explores the implications that the construction and use of avatars in games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft have for our understanding of personal identity. It asks whether the avatar can meaningfully be experienced as a separate person, existing in parallel to the flesh and blood player. A rehearsal of Cartesian and Lockean accounts of personal identity constructs an understanding of the self that is challenged by the experience of online play. It will be argued that playful engagement in virtual worlds invites the participant to reflect upon the human being as embodied and social; qualities of which are marginalised by Descartes and Locke. The strangeness of this experience of virtual worlds confronts the player with a challenge to construct a coherent narrative of online life, of which treating the avatar as a separate person is a coherent option. This opens up the virtual world as an important space within which personal identity is explored, but one with complex implications for our understanding of what counts as reasonable and ethical behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Additional Information: Pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher's policy at (accessed 21/06/2016)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1751-1321
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 31 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 16 March 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 23:37

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