Identity Design in Virtual Worlds

  • Benjamin Koehne
  • Matthew J. Bietz
  • David Redmiles
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7897)


Designers in HCI and end user development require a good understanding of actors in virtual interaction spaces. Persistent virtual worlds represent a rather new but growing class of complex design and interaction platforms. Online identities form the basis for interaction of individuals in virtual environments. We present results from an ethnographic study of a popular online game, and develop a socio-technical model of identity formation that illuminates the processes of identity design in online environments. This framework demonstrates how virtual worlds provide social and technological structures that shape self-presentation and interaction. This allows us to explore the relationship between the real-world identity of the game player and the virtual-world identity of their avatar.


Virtual worlds design theory end user design user-centered design identity 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Boellstorff, T.: Coming of age in Second Life: an anthropologist explores the virtually human. Princeton University Press, Princeton (2008)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brubaker, J.R., Hayes, G.R.: SELECT * FROM USER: infrastructure and socio-technical representation. In: Proceedings of the ACM 2011 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 369–378. ACM (2011)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Côté, J.E., Levine, C.: Identity formation, agency, and culture: a social psychological synthesis. L. Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah (2002)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Díez, D., Díaz, P., Aedo, I.: Meta-design Blueprints: Principles and Guidelines for Co-design in Virtual Environments. In: Costabile, M.F., Dittrich, Y., Fischer, G., Piccinno, A. (eds.) IS-EUD 2011. LNCS, vol. 6654, pp. 276–281. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fogli, D., Parasiliti Provenza, L.: End-User Development of e-Government Services through Meta-modeling. In: Costabile, M.F., Dittrich, Y., Fischer, G., Piccinno, A. (eds.) IS-EUD 2011. LNCS, vol. 6654, pp. 107–122. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Geertz, C.: Thick Description: Towards an Interpretive Theory of Culture. In: The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books (1973)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Geser, H.: Me, myself and my avatar: Some microsociological reflections on Second Life. In: Sociology in Switzerland: Towards Cybersociety and Vireal Social Relations (2007)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Giddens, A.: Modernity and self-identity: self and society in the late modern age. Stanford University Press, Stanford (1991)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Goffman, E.: The presentation of self in everyday life. Anchor Doubleday, Garden City (1959)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Haraway, J.: Manifesto for cyborgs: Science technology and socialist feminism in the 1980s. Socialist Review 80, 65–108 (1985)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hine, C.: Virtual ethnography. SAGE, London (2000)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kallinikos, J.: Mediated action and representation on the vicissitudes of human signification. Homo Oeconomicus 19(4), 607–622 (2003)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kauppinen, K., Kivimäki, A., Era, T., Robinson, M.: Producing identity in collaborative virtual environments. In: Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology. ACM, Taipei (1998)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kolko, B.E.: Representing Bodies in Virtual Space: The Rhetoric of Avatar Design. The Information Society: An International Journal 15(3), 177–186 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lanzara, G.F.: Remediation of practices: How new media change the ways we see and do things in practical domains (2010)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lofland, J.: Analyzing social settings: a guide to qualitative observation and analysis, 4th edn. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont (2006)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Marcus, G.E.: Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24, 95–117 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    O’Neil, M.: Wikipedia and authority. In: Lovink, G., Tkacz, N. (eds.) Critical Point of View Reader, pp. 309–324. Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam (2010)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    McDonough, J.P.: Designer selves: Construction of technologically mediated identity within graphical, multiuser virtual environments. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 50(1), 855–869 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Nardi, B.A., Harris, J.: Strangers and friends: collaborative play in world of warcraft. In: Proceedings of the 2006 20th Anniversary Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. ACM, Banff (2006)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Nardi, B.A.: My life as a night elf priest: an anthropological account of world of warcraft. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor (2010)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Neustaedter, C., Fedorovskaya, E.: Capturing and sharing memories in a virtual world. In: Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, Boston (2009)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Newman, J.: The Myth of the Ergodic Videogame. The International Journal of Computer Game Research 2(1) (2002)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    O’Day, V.L., Bobrow, D.G., Shirley, M.: The social-technical design circle. In: Proceedings of the 1996 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. ACM, Boston (1996)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Scacchi, W.: Socio-Technical Design. In: Bainbridge, W.S. (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, p. 659. Berkshire Publishing Group (2004)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Stone, A.R.: Will the real body please stand up? Boundary stories about virtual cultures. In: Trend, D. (ed.) Reading Digital Culture, pp. 185–198. Blackwell, Malden (1991)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Takayoshi, P.: Building new networks from the old: Women’s experiences with electronic communications. Computers and Composition 11(1), 21–35 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Taylor, T.L.: Living Digitally: Embodiment in Virtual Worlds. In: Schroeder, R. (ed.) The Social Life of Avatars Presence and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments, pp. 40–62. Springer (2002)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Turkle, S.: Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the Internet. Simon & Schuster, New York (1995)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Koehne
    • 1
  • Matthew J. Bietz
    • 1
  • David Redmiles
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of InformaticsUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations