About this video:
Avatars were embodied appearances of divinities in the ancient narrative of the Bhagavad Gita before they represented embodied players in the cyberspace of massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Beginning with these games, this talk asks why players choose the avatars they do, and why they do with them whatever it is that they do. The answer given is psychoanalytic, arguing that players choose avatars in order to project outward their "inner objects," relics of earlier life, integrating them into their self-image in order to live better. But this is also what we do in our embodied lives, at least according to philosophers as disparate as Nietzsche and Plato. Each taught that the sensible world is a drama of projected personae. Whereas Nietzsche thought these personae were actions of the material body, however, Plato thought this drama needed a director off-stage, an immaterial soul. Plato was right, this talk argues, if we're to make sense of the notion of living a life, rather than being lived by one. Not coincidentally, his notion of living a life presupposed a doctrine of reincarnation akin to that of his predecessors in India. For both, embodied life is virtual; in other words, this "meatspace" we share is but a massively multi-player cosmic role-playing game. Or rather, a cosmic game with only one player—the Self.