Education in Virtual Worlds, Identity and Expression, Second Life

Mormon Avatars, the Super Bowl, and Second Life

Avatars are heating up. The recent Super Bowl featured an avatar-focused commercial for Coca-Cola which proved that avatars are approaching mainstream consciousness. (And also implies that it’s only when you log off and stop living in an aimless fantasy that you’ll meet the cute guy or gal “behind the avatar” - It’s the Real Thing, no?)

One angle to the role of the avatar as identity is how religion fits into the avatar practice. The Mormon Times recently took a look at this angle by asking the hard question: “Can an avatar be Mormom?”

The answer seems self-evident: yes! Of course you can - your avatar can be anything you want it to be, no?

The piece from Molly Farmer on the MT Web site investigates SL avatars by looking at a two-part series the publication had previously published (here and here), and Farmer answers unequivocally that, yes, avatars can be Mormon, because avatars, like most other beings, need a place to congregate.

“No matter where individual Mormons are,” she writes, “Second Life or real life — or what they look like — 3-D, animated or otherwise — they gravitate to each other… (they) chose to be together, to congregate based on the common thread of their faith.”

Farmer also praises Keith Thompson, who created the virtual Salt Lake Tabernacle in Second Life, for giving such attention to the details of the Mormom structure, “leaving no pillar unadorned or pipe unreflective.” While we don’t find this to be unique - thousands of people throw numerous hours of concentrated design and construction time into making their island the best it can be - what stands out is Farmer’s devotional admiration of Thompson’s work.

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