What is “real” anyway?

When discussing about videogames, avatars and the internet the discussion often declares these spaces as “fake”. By talking about the “real” effects of virtual spaces or trying to establish links between personalities and actions online, some people try to create a division on its value. This rhetoric undermines the worth of virtual spaces, pushing them to insignificance. But can we deny their status as real? Can we just dismiss them when the effect on the physical world is evident?

I have also been exploring these questions. Thinking about the validity of virtual avatars, just because society has deemed them less valuable and real. Does my body, the meat avatar I inhabit on this world hold more validity than other characters I choose to create? The one aspect where my physical form holds superiority to these virtual representations is that throughout my life I will -potentially- spend more time in it. But that’s it. When I am online, I feel my physical body become disconnected from my persona. I am fully transferred into another space until I decide I want to come back. And more often than not it is just then that my physical body starts functioning again. I feel hunger or the need to go to the bathroom or to sleep. None of those needs registered before that moment.

[In their interview for 1843 Magazine, LaTurbo Avedon states that “my experiences in virtual places are lived and legitimate”, bringing virtual spaces to what’s “real”. By focusing on experiences rather than physicality, it is easy to realize what’s real or not. Did it happen? Did you feel it? Did it produce something in you? Then real it was. If we dismiss their “realness” by stating that they cannot be in this world, then we are as fake as they are, as we are not able to fully embody their space.

Questions for LaTurbo

There are many things I can relate to, but I have not experienced personally. This is an amazing opportunity to ask LaTurbo Avedon about their own personal trajectory and take a step further into the world they live in.

  • How would you relate the experience of being an avatar to someone that believes they are simply fake instead of another form of representation?
  • How has your perception of the different worlds (virtual/real) changed? Has it become more diffuse or defined?
  • Virtual spaces are vastly untouched by politics. We have been slowly adapting to live alongside these spaces and legislations around the world have barely touched them. How would you approach a political campaign to grant avatars the status of citizens (or at least of individuals)?

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